Bren Plummer, bassist and composer

jazz and beyond

Nocturnal is available on CD or via download.

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Yo Mama (BPlummer)

"A veteran jazz and classical bassist, Bren Plummer heads a trio with fellow Seattleites John Hansen, piano, and Reade Whitwell, drums. He applies his incisive bowing technique in Duke Ellington’s and Billy Strayhorn’s “The Star-Crossed Lovers” and—in one chorus of pure melody supported by a filagree of Whitwell’s cymbal strokes—in the impressionistic title tune composed by drummer Joe Chambers for a 1968 Bobby Hutcherson recording. The trio is full of vigor on Lee Morgan’s “Boy, What a Night,” energizes the 1942 Tommy Dorsey-Frank Sinatra hit “In the Blue of Evening” and plays Miles Davis’s “Take Off” in the neo-bop spirit of the original Blue Note recording.

Plummer and company bring dynamism even to ballads customarily played slow, including Matt Dennis’s “The Night We Called it a Day,” Mitchell Parish’s “Stars Fell on Alabama” and Bill Evans’s “Turn Out the Stars.” Arco or pizzicato, Plummer solos impressively throughout. Hansen invests everything he plays with a light touch and harmonic depth. The track titles suggest a preoccupation with night, but there is little danger that a listener will fall asleep while Nocturnal is playing."

--Doug Ramsey , Rifftides

"Nocturnal may be bassist Bren Plummer’s debut album, but he is a veteran player with a long résumé of varied experience. Plummer keeps a busy schedule of appearances with local symphonies, plus a plethora of jazz gigs, and sports a fat, woody tone, with a deep sound and calm authority to his playing, as well as considerable bowing skills. He is well-deserving of wider recognition.

Nocturnal may not be bleeding-edge innovation and features no originals, but is nevertheless a deeply satisfying classic piano trio operating at an extremely high level. The trio of Plummer alongside drummer Reade Whitwell and pianist John Hansen displays a commanding blend of nuanced flexibility and control, evoking the telepathic group interplay and melodic freedom of the great Bill Evans groups.

Credit Plummer for an interesting mix of somewhat under-played standards, bundled into a thematically cohesive and complete program, in which the highlights are many. Of note is the title tune, driven by a probing arco melody on the bass, moody piano arpeggios, and textural interjections from Whitwell. The track is a standout as well as an outlier on the album, as it gives a glimpse into the possibilities of combining Plummer’s classical background with his obvious feeling for jazz.

The album closes with a finely-wrought take on “The Night We Called it a Day,” featuring a superb solo turn from Hansen (again evoking the presence of Evans), stunningly light and sensitive ballad work (on sticks rather than the usual brushes) from Whitwell, and a beautifully melodic solo from Plummer. It’s the perfect closer to a late night of moody jazz."

– Andrew Luthringer, For the Record, Earshot Jazz April 2016

New Album Available!!!!

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CD Release Show @ Tula's Jazz Club

June 26, 2017 @ 8pm

Bren Plummer

Moldy Figs

In 2016, bassist Bren Plummer dropped an excellent album, Nocturnal, a deeply assured debut exploring the modern piano trio format through a discerning selection of thoughtfully sourced standards. This year, he returns with a completely different approach: an all-original set of adventurous, deep-swinging post-bop with a touch of Blue Note flavor, brought to life by a nimble, top-shelf sextet.

Despite the emphasis on composition and counterpoint, allowing Plummer to explore beyond the typical 32-bar head-solo-head structure, the excellent tunes aren’t fussy or overdone. The variety of textures and approaches provide fertile and rewarding conditions for solos and dynamic group interplay.

Highlights include “Yellow 5, Yellow 6,” which features a suite-like structure, and shifts melodic shapes through dreamy wandering ballad sections, burning up-tempo swing and half-time shuffle feels. Another standout track is “Cockroach,” where dark, wide intervals, powered by a fat and funky syncopated bass line and driven home by D’Vonne Lewis’ authoritative backbeat, are interspersed with controlled bursts of free improvisation. “Cockroach” hints intriguingly at some more progressive and modern directions Plummer might take his music in the future.

Plummer claims to have conceived and mapped out a four-album arc of varied projects. We’re at the halfway point, and it’s becoming clear that whatever he has planned, paying attention to Plummer’s music will be time well-spent.

          –Andrew Luthringer