John Patitucci, "Remembrance"

71 Billboard Rating

Jazz bassist John Patitucci enlisted a number of the genre's musicians for his 13th (and arguably best) album, "Remembrance," including spirited drummer Brian Blade and improviser extraordinaire saxophonist Joe Lovano. The album pays homage to Patitucci's musical heroes, from jazz titans like trumpeter Freddie Hubbard to such classical icons as composer Olivier Messiaen. "Blues for Freddie" is a bouncing sendoff to Hubbard, while "Messiaen's Gumbo" sets the late composer's musical ideas to a New Orleans groove. Highlights on the set -- where the musician displays rhythmic authority on acoustic and electric bass -- include Lovano dancing with the tenor sax on "Sonny Side," while Blade instigates the beat. The album closes with two gems: the slow-tempo blues cut "Play Ball" and the sublime title track, on which Patitucci pays tribute to influential saxophonist Michael Brecker (who died from leukemia in 2007) with an emotional delivery on two overdubbed six-string basses. -- Dan Ouellette