Mike Pope | The Lay of The Land

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Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Jazz: Bebop Moods: Featuring Bass
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The Lay of The Land

by Mike Pope

Contemporary straight ahead Jazz at it's finest. A high class CD featuring the playing and compositions of New York jazz bassist Mike Pope. Pope is joined by jazz giants Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, John Patitucci, Jeff "Tain" Watts and others.
Genre: Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The First Order of Business
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4:55 album only
2. Essence
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4:48 album only
3. At Home Again
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7:46 album only
4. The Lay of The Land
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7:09 album only
5. Cherokee
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4:23 album only
6. Climate
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5:12 album only
7. The Avid Listener
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6:16 album only
8. The Way You Look Tonight
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7:12 album only
9. The Star Spangled Banner
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4:40 album only


Album Notes
Mike Pope is a real renaissance man. He is a musician of broad scope and tremendous talent. His virtuosity on electric and acoustic bass is rare even by today's standards. His harmonic sophistication is matched only by his ability to improvise on a very high level with great consistency. To top it off, he's no slouch on the piano either(it's in the family genes). In addition I'd also like to note that Mr. Pope is an inventor as well(designs and builds pre-amps for basses etc.). All this plus he can take your car apart and rebuild it for you. Is there anything Mike Pope can't do????
John Patitucci 2/1/02

-CD Liner Notes-

If you're a fan of the bass and this CD is your first encounter with Michael Pope, you're in for a pleasant surprise. The Lay of the Land is a wonderful session, full of the leader's great writing and playing, with brilliant essays along the way by the members of this all-star line-up. Given the fact that this recording makes such a mature artist statement, the only surprise should be that we all don't have music by Michael Pope in our collections already. To that I can only say - good things are worth waiting for.

Michael did not emerge fully formed from nowhere. After completing his studies at North Texas State, he moved to Los Angeles for a time, then to New York City, where he rolled up his sleeves and went to work paying dues with an array of r&b, rock and jazz groups, on both acoustic and electric bass. I first came across Michael when I was looking for an electric bassist for Wirewalkers, my group at the time. I already knew him by reputation, and he came highly recommended as an articulate musician with a lot of harmonic knowledge, who could also really groove on the r&b influenced material we were playing in Wirewalkers. He was a perfect fit for the band. We had a weekly engagement at a NYC coffeehouse and we were having a ball, developing the group's repertoire, trying new ideas, just having a great time. We started sneaking some straight-ahead jazz tunes into the book, and Michael said, "I'm gonna bring my acoustic bass next time. It might be nice on some of these songs". I was amazed to discover that his acoustic bass playing was equal to his electric playing. On the bigger instrument he's as fluent a soloist as he is on the electric, consistently able to serve up brilliant improvisations with taste and clarity, even at fast tempos. Fleet-fingered though he may be, it's in his supportive role as a rhythm section player where Michael's musical depth can truly be felt. His ears are wide open and he instinctively knows what to do in the moment. Drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts says of Michael, "He's an intelligent musician who makes good decisions quickly on the bandstand. And he has a selflessness, always playing in service of the music."

At the outset I stated that bass fans would like this CD. But the bass playing is only part of the picture here. Michael is a creative musical thinker, and the original compositions and arrangements which comprise The Lay of the Land are evidence of that. The insistent forward motion of "The First Order of Business" the appropriately titled opening track, the plaintive cry of "Essence", the lilting beauty of "At Home Again", the rhythmic plate tectonics of the title track; these songs are the mirror of the man, reflecting the complexity and humanity of the artist. Go further into the CD and more is revealed; his refreshing, left-of-center take on "Cherokee", the tip of the hat to Miles' '60s quintet on Henry Hey's "Climate", the hip re-working of "The Way You Look Tonight" ...... Hey, you don't need me to chatter on, just dig it for yourself. Every time I listen to it I find something new that hits a nerve, touches my heart, makes me shake my head or laugh out loud.

It was a great experience to be a part of this project; great music, good friends, a relaxed vibe, and a bandleader who knew what he came for; to make some good music. For Michael Pope, that's always the first order of business.

Joe Locke
New York City
June, 2002



to write a review

Mark Cohen

Hey Downbeat magazine - WAKE UP!!
MP’s bass playing: What can be added to the testimonials of giants Wooten & Pattituci?

The ensemble: Much more than virtuoso bass + guest stars – sounds like they’ve been together for years (think Coltrane classic quartet).

The compositions: The jewel in the crown! Don’t let the intensity of the cover photo scare you – this album is FUN. If you can listen without smiling -- Jack, you dead!


Jazz of rare maturity and intelligence
For jazz to reclaim its intellectual preeminence, there would need to be more albums like The Lay of the Land. But there aren't, which only serves to highlight Mr. Pope's leadership qualities.

From the very first bars, it's obvious that Mr. Pope is all about the music. With the participation of so many star performers, The Lay Of The Land could have been an ego trip or a technical showpiece. Instead, this session is a testament to advanced musical intelligence and rare artistic maturity.

No doubt, the musical press needs to give Mr. Pope his due -- if it hadn't been for KSDS radio in San Diego, I woudn't have even known of his existence. One way or another, I hope many more listeners will have a chance to hear this impressive music.

Christian Bausch

This album rocks!! Great jazz tunes and real great playing by all the musicians. They ´re all awesome. The Brecker Brothers: WOW.
Mike Pope is indeed a tremendous bass artist. No kiddin´!!
On two tracks he plays the electric 6-string with such an outstanding virtuosity and he has a unique sense for phrasing.
His work on the upright...what can i say...wonderful!!
A highly recommended jazz cd. It´s a must have!
Mike, you´re a KILLER!!

Hans Backenroth

Great CD!
A bassplayer to keep an eye on! A great grooveplayer /soloist AND a writer of highest class!!!


mike is the man
he is an awesome bassist. i love his upright and electric playing equally and he has mastered them both! this cd is a great representation of his compositions and his playing ability.

Norbert Junge

Mike a bass milestone
This is an album full of musical feeling.You can listen to a really great musician and of course he's a tremendous bass player.I hope many more listeners in Germany will get to know his melodic bass playing.

Shant K.

Killer bass player... Awesome Album!!!
It dont get any more standard than this album.
To the point that one (bass player) can actually study his lines, and learn.
The great Bassist... Mike Pope, you cant go wrong with him

Mike Lin

Bass playing at it's finest. Fluidity of music amazing.

William Feuss

Victor Wooten Was Right!
On two occasions, Victor Wooten told me of his admiration for Mike Pope. Enough said?