On Sept. 9, local jazz label Epigraph Records and Metro Galleries brought out world-renowned bassist Jeff Denson, who performed songs from his album “Secret World,” which was entirely composed by Denson. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi, pianist Florian Weber, and drummer Gerald Cleaver accompanied Denson during the performance.
The group had been on a California tour promoting the new album, which ran from Sept. 4-10. The group has made stops at San Pedro, Turlock, and Mission Viejo among others. The group played workshops and evening concerts at schools, as well as performing in a club and a showroom.
Denson’s “Secret World” performance was a blend of top-notch musicianship, atmospheric sounds, excellent grooves, and a phenomenal showcase of technical musicianship from his band mates.
The highlights of the concert was their performance of the song “Where the Water Moves,” which Denson described as being influenced by the rapid changes of water coming from a waterfall.
Another standout moment was their performance of three songs representing the change from sunlight to nightfall. Denson portrayed the mood of these changes with an astonishing arrangement highlighting all the musicians.
The variety of “Secret World” was showcased very well during the show, going from slow tempos and quiet dynamics to faster, rhythm heavy arrangements and experimentation.
After the show, Denson reflected on his experience and influences.
“ I am a friend with Kris [Tiner]. We played at a festival together this summer, and we have a mutual friend who owns a record label in Los Angeles. I told him about my tour, it worked out in his schedule and here we are,” said Denson. Tiner is a Bakersfield College music professor.
Denson is originally from Brooklyn and moved to California a year ago, accepting a professorship at the jazz institute in UC Berkeley.
“The Jazz School Institute in Berkeley is an amazing place,” said Denson.
His influences go beyond music, even recognizing the Metro as an influence.
“I have many influences such as films, books, paintings. This is very inspiring, being in here,” said Denson as he looked around the gallery, displaying artwork from First Friday’s “Latination” exhibit.
“Nature is also a huge thing for me,” said Denson, which was portrayed during his performance introductions, describing the meaning of the songs and their names.
The Metro gallery has been a host to a number of Jazz concerts, with the help of Tiner and his Epigraph record label. Jeff Denson’s performance was another great addition to the growing community in Bakersfield for the genre.