Sacred Grafitti

Edo Castro

Passion Star Records, 2010

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


As a music aficionado who’s strictly a voyeur, a writer who’s never played a lick or tried to fit different musical components together into a cohesive whole, I’m intrigued by the idea of a bass player as bandleader.   When your instrument is the wallflower of the bunch, the subtle rhythmic marker lurking between, behind and underneath featured elements like guitar, drums, keys and sax, how does your musical personality find expression in the music?

Bay Area bassist/composer Edo Castro achieves his own distinctive voice in significant part by featuring a pair of seven-string basses with all of the expanded tonal range and expressiveness that description would imply.  The ultimate beauty of this album, though, is in the way Castro weaves his nimble lines in and out of the foreground of these tracks, playing a mostly supporting role on ensemble jazz numbers like “The Gathering” and “Bent Blues,” then taking the spotlight on softer, sparser tunes like the contemplative “57th Latitude,” where he is accompanied only by Michael Marning’s e-bow and midi and loop textures, and “A Travel Lodge Moment,” a sort of post-bop fugue.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Castro clearly feels equally as comfortable powering through the modern jazz grooves of the former pair as tiptoeing through the more contemplative, New Age-ish contrails of the latter.  On “Sneaky Pete,” Castro finds the seam between the two approaches, delivering a quiet, steady interlude of a solo in the midst of a funky little soul-jazz number featuring Richard Gee’s snappy, stinging lead guitar. 

Much of the remainder of the album unfolds in similar form, as Castro alternates solo/duo meditative moments (“When The Stars Fell On You,” “Drifting Across The Night Sky,” “As The Cherry Blossoms Fall”) with deftly executed, often-challenging jazz trio numbers (the synth-heavy “All In,” the lounge-silky “Left Of Center,” the Mark Isham trumpet spotlight “Sacred Grafitti”).  Castro’s iconoclastic side is perhaps most evident in the bravura “No End In Sight,” where he and guest Al Caldwell delivering a pulsing, spider-fingered, utterly unique duet between Caldwell’s nine-string bass and Castro’s seven-string, with percussion and synth accents for texture.

The common thread throughout all of this musical adventuring is Castro’s tasteful, precise playing and warm, open musical vision.  On Sacred Grafitti, Castro explores the boundaries between modern jazz and meditative New Age with uncommon subtlety and grace. 

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


That's a great review, so why not an A-?
Ratings are tough... so completely individual and subjective. I would have to say I gave it a very positive review and also a B+ because it's an album I had no trouble admiring for its artistry but also that I enjoyed a little less than albums I've given higher grades to in recent months.

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