Mark Costa: Textures

Mark Costa  (bass/leader),
James Muller (guitar),
Bill Risby (keys),
Gordon Rytmeister (Drums)
Tony Azzopardi (Percussion),

(Tracks: Dedication, Textures, End Game, Hidden Gem, Stand And Deliver, White Sands, Pendulum, A Father’s Love)
The album “Textures” is a contemporary fusion album from Australian bassist Mark Costa.  Costa is highly credited performer with extensive recording, performing and pedagogy credits.  On this recording he has combined with an all-star ensemble of Australia’s finest musicians to produce what Costa himself describes as “…eight original compositions with a fresh contemporary jazz sound comparable to the music of Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny and Tribal Tech.”

Underpinning the performances on this CD is a solid rhythm section lead by Costa on bass along with drummer Gordon Rytmeister and percussionist Tony Azzopardi.   Listen to the lovely groove on “White Sands” with its subtle change in emphasis as the piano solo enters.  Or the 6/8 feel of “Dedication” which interjects a repeated riff comprised of a 5 bar grouping of 3/4.  The Rhythm section is  truly the backbone of this cd, and often their detail is unnoticed.  There are few moments of flash from Costa who chooses to lay solid foundations and intelligent lines upon which the ensemble can build.  Having said that, there is a wonderful bass feature in “Stand and Deliver” that demonstrates just how well Costa can turn it on when required.

Many of the tunes on this album are written in odd time signatures creating interesting grooves and refreshing variations.  Check out “Hidden Gem” which alternates between 5/4 and  6/4 so effortlessly, a credit to the compositional skill of Costa.  This track also features a beautiful introduction from pianist Bill Risby and guitarist James Muller who deliver a thoughtful and evocative enquiry that leads perfectly into the tune.  Throughout this album there is a strong sense of melody and this, along with all the influences therein, combine to present this as indeed a strong body or work.   Certain tracks obviously pay their respects to Costa’s influences.  One can get a good idea of the record collection of Costa listening to this CD.  However, as with any good musician, he learns from the past and then makes it his own.

One can’t review this album without paying accolades to the guitarist James Muller.  Truly one the most exciting players on the planet today.
He along with pianist Bill Risby are given ample opportunity to stretch out.   Both players deliver exciting and honest improvisations that will satisfy the most discerning.   There is no point in drawing comparisons to Muller.  Whilst at times he may vary his playing to suite the track style, he always remains totally recognisable as player.  Throughout this recording, his playing is exciting and passionate.

For me, “Textures” will get very good use.  Unlike many albums in this style that often fall short in the either their improvisational or compositional content, this album does not.  It delivers from start to finish.  I strongly recommend this recording.  It deserves a listen.  Click here to go to the Mark Costa website.


John Pin