Franklin/Clover/Seales Project – Three Worlds
(Beezwax – 2001)
by John Barrett
They don’t play together often, but when they do it’s magic. Steve Clover lives in Europe; Marc Seales plays in the group New Sotires and teaches at the University of Washington. In 1997 they met Henry Franklin in Los Angeles, contributing to the album The Hunter;a year later they made another disc, the marvelous Two Worlds. On this one the tunes are soft and the interplay large you need three ears to catch all the action. “Sweet Lorraine” begins gently, and time stops at the end of each phrase; Clover rolls quiet cymbals as Marc makes like Monk. From this moody beginning the pace picks up there’s a touch of light blues, and a lively strain from Franklin. Feel the sustain on “Serenadeto a Cuckoo: Marc’s echo is warm, and his solo moves naturally. (I think I’d compare him to Harold Mabern, a most underrated talent.) Henry has the speed of a modern bassist, plus an old-fashioned soft tone. No wonder they call him “The Skipper” his sailing is smooth.
You won’t recognize “Mr. Bojangles”; in a meditative waltz, Seales has the grace of Bill Evans. The tune is nearly absent as its chords are used for exploration; Clover is the dominant voice, and he never takes a solo. “New Stories” (written by Seales for his regular group) is a sweet melancholy; Franklin’s intricacies are a joy, especially when the tune goes funky. The Skipper takes a good solo on “Righteous Path”, and “Norwegian Eyes” has that “dark club on a rainy night” mood. Henry keeps the theme slown’ tangy; feel the cymbals wash over the tune like a fog. Seales is gently soulful *we’re talking Mabern, or maybe Bobby Timmons) and it all sounds like old times. And it should this is the best kind of family reunion.