Jeremy McCoy’s new album, “Dialogues with Double Bass” presents a wide-ranging have a look at the double bass repertoire. The album highlights two particular themes. The main notion is highlighting the bass as an equal voice in instrumental duos that are diverse and interesting conversations. A second theme is found in the vocal quality of much of the music. Like Bottesini, one among history’s most famous bass players, who earned his living playing in an opera orchestra, Jeremy McCoy is a seasoned member of New York City’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (the orchestra’s assistant principal bassist). The influence of great making a song will also be heard in McCoy’s playing, in the way he shapes a phrase and in the varied tonal colors of his sound. McCoy’s wide experience as a soloist, chamber player and orchestral musician, and the expressive range of his instrument, finds him right at home in this engaging choice of eloquent dialogues with the double bass.
Destined by sheer size to hold up a whole orchestra, the double bass is rarely encountered in solo or chamber music. But in this record, Jeremy McCoy, Assistant Principal bassist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, proves that this mighty monster will let a great player perform fascinating technical feats and elicit sounds of astonishing beauty and variety. Collaborating with equally brilliant partners, he displays his instrument’s infinite resources, in addition to his own stunning virtuosity and stylistic versatility; the program–partly original, partly transcribed–ranges from Baroque, real and faux, to the present. Two charming Italian “Duettos” sound like parodies of grand opera: Bottesini’s, himself a great bassist, for two basses, and Rossini’s, for cello and, incredibly, a three-stringed bass. Both include making a song slow movements, bouncy finales and dazzling pyrotechnics. Jazz bassist and composer John Patitucci contributes two pieces: one rhythmically spicy, one lyrical. A Telemann Canonic Sonata, familiar on flutes or violins, growls on bassoon and bass; Martin Dalby’s Scottish-influenced “Rant” features sound effects for flute and bass. Duets by Gliére and Elgar, with viola and trombone respectively, are lovely. In Jean Francaix’s brilliant “Duo Baroque,” the bass and harp make fun of themselves and each and every other, but the joke goes on too long. This record will leave you smiling with admiration and delight. –Edith Eisler