Intuitiveness coupled with camaraderie creates a steady flow of inspiration throughout Silent Photographer, the latest from the Seattle-based jazz trio known as Scenes. The collective, consisting of guitarist John Stowell, bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop, performs mostly original compositions along with a few lesser-known jazz classics. Silent Photographer is their fourth release for Bishop's label, Origin Records.
Johnson, who is perhaps best known for his upright playing, is featured prominently on electric bass, soloing and, in the case of Herbie Hancock's "Chans's Song," interpreting a melody with a gracefulness not heard in most instrument doublers. The bassist gets the opportunity to show his prowess on upright on his own swinging piece "Contours," an up-tempo showcase for Stowell's inventive, almost pianistic approach. Stowell contributes a handful of tunes, including the plaintive "Windchaser," a vehicle for each of the musicians to improvise simultaneously without abandoning the lush essence of the piece.
The disc is full of stand-out moments, including John Coltrane's "Resolution," with Stowell on fretless guitar. The interpretation works well with a pseudo-funk vibe, reminiscent of something Bill Frisell might do. Stowell switches to acoustic guitar for the closing title track, a ballad with unhurried, streaming lines of spontaneity; A fitting summation to a recording ripe with beauty.