Personnel: Mike Pope (acoustic & electric basses); Michael Brecker, Seamus Blake (saxophone); Randy Brecker (trumpet); Joe Locke (vibraphone); Henry Hey (piano); Mike Stern (acoustic guitar); John Patitucci (acoustic bass); Jeff "Tain" Watts, Jim White (drums).
Composer: Henry Hey.
Personnel: Mike Pope (acoustic bass, electric bass); Mike Pope (double bass, bass guitar); John Patitucci (acoustic bass, double bass); Jim White , Jim White (drums); Mike Stern (acoustic guitar); Michael Brecker, Seamus Blake (saxophone); Randy Brecker (trumpet); Henry Hey (piano); Joe Locke (vibraphone); Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums).
Assuming the world doesn't come to an end anytime soon, it's a fairly safe bet that in time, every successful jazz sideman will be offered a deal from a major or indie label to make an attempt at a solo career. Most likely, every one of these sidemen will take advantage of the bigger names they work with to help market their own music. But why not? Mike Pope had been one of the Big Apple's key groove cats over the past decade, and his resum‚ had been helped along by none other than Randy Brecker and Mike Stern -- who, along with Michael Brecker, fellow first bassman John Patitucci, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, help bring Pope's debut to powerful improvisational levels. Pope clearly loves the interplay, jumping out of the box with the fast and funky "The First Order of Business," a spotlight for Randy Brecker and Watts. There's emotional balance provided by other Pope originals like the gently romantic "Essence" and the one standard in the bunch, "The Way You Look Tonight," which is given an abstract and expansive treatment. And even in the post-9/11 world of American tributes, you can't say you've heard many top jazz players do a thoughtful version of "The Star Spangled Banner," can you? ~ Jonathan Widran
JazzTimes (8/03, p.139) - "...[A] strong and auspicious debut....This album should solidify his talents as a musician even as it establishes composer cred..."