Bassist and composer Mike Pope builds significant musical, personal and spiritual bridges between the past, present and future with his third release, Cold Truth, Warm Heart. The new album shows him to be a visionary composer, arranger and bandleader.
The 2014 offering is the first in a decade and establishes a new threshold of leadership for the virtuoso acoustic and electric bassist who has toured extensively with Chick Corea, David Sanborn, Al DiMeola and Bill Bruford, and more recently, Joe Locke and Eldar Djangirov.
Pope’s 2002 album, The Lay of the Land, delivered contemporary straight ahead jazz with help from stellar players: Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, John Patitucci, Jeff ”Tain” Watts and others. It was warmly received, but tours with other ensembles took up the bulk of his time.
In the last decade, he moved to Maryland, started a family and adopted a more anchored life. Both his personal and professional life bore fruit. He has two lovely children and plenty of new music to share.
“The new album,” says Pope, “was written for the players who were playing it. The idea was to write stuff that was inspired, worrying less about how it would all go together than how it felt in the moment.“ On most compositions, he establishes the subject matter and directs the conversation, while the (recording and touring) musicians contribute superb interaction and improvisation. Pope leaves plenty of space for these world-class improvisers to do what they do.
The stellar touring band includes Eldar Djangirov (piano), Joe Locke (vibraphone), Seamus Blake (tenor saxophone) and Mauricio Zottarelli (drums). All but Djangirov appear on the latest album.
Mike Pope brings an unerring gravitas and steely resolve to every role he plays. Devoid of pretense or ego, his skill on the bass is matched by just a handful of players on the planet.
His newest work exhibits the essence of jazz: rich melodies, lush chords, and sensual rhythms. Others of equal skill and stature surround him; gifted improvisers who surrender to the supremacy of truly inspired music.