Bren Plummer


"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