The new EP, 15/16, from bassist Mike Claiborne is as multi-faceted as the musician himself. Recorded completely by Claiborne (including 4, 5, 6 string basses, fretless bass, guitar and keyboards), the five selections were original released as singles over 2015 and 2016. For this release, Claiborne remixed and remastered them for the CD release.
Mike Claiborne – 15/16
1. Summer Song
2. Lua Cheia
3. Sunday Meeting
5. Mr. Evans
Having published the previous press releases (and also knowing Claiborne as a friend), I was excited to listen to these songs again, together in a specific order.
The opening track, Summer Song, has that feel of mid-July in the tune. You’re sitting on a beach, or cruising with your friends and the windows rolled down. The breeze is blowing and has that hint of heat on it. Claiborne has some tasty sparse slap bass on the track, which for me solidifies the whole thing.
Lua Cheia tones down the excitement and energy from the opening track and moves it in a more atmospheric space. The piano leaves a lot of room for Claiborne with a fretless and 6 string bass to add some layers on top.
Sunday Meeting is still my favorite. It’s old time, gospel feel immediately makes you smile and think of time spent with family and friends, around a dining room table, just enjoying each other. The groove is dripping with funk and soul, which is cemented by the Wurlitzer that Claiborne used.
Stellar is a more traditional bebop style of jazz tune, with Claiborne utilizing his fretless bass in a more 70s fusion style of group. His nuance and phrasing is quite nice, hinting a little at Jaco but moving the fretless in his own direction. This is a tune I can see a lot of bassists trying to emulate that style and phrasing (I know I’ve been working on it a bit).
The EP closes with Mr. Evans, which was Claiborne’s ode to the legendary jazz pianist. Written in 3/4 and recorded as a trio (which Evans was well known for), it captures the sparseness of the group while having an amazing amount of space within the group. It’s a solid closing number that will have you hitting the “back” button to listen to it again and again.
15/16 by Mike Claiborne is an excellent sophomore release, that showcases how versatile a musician he is. It’s clear that Claiborne has spent a lot of time in the jazz idiom, as he nails the nuances and different styles effortlessly, while putting his own stamp on each and every tune. There’s plenty to listen to and enjoy, time and time again.
15/16 is available through CD Baby and all major download/streaming sites.