Franklin/Clover/Seales Project – Three Worlds

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 slow‘n’ 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.