I don’t know if it’s the fact that his originals are so damn original, or the fact that he takes unlikely pop tunes and makes them sound like they were always his, that makes me enjoy this album so much. David Caldwell Mason’s sophomore release, Cold Snap, is a brilliant album that features the ultra-hip Ari Hoenig on drums and Kellen Harrison on bass. Caldwell is based in Brooklyn but appears on saxophonist Brian Patneaude’s most recent album All Around Us and has performed with drummer Joe Barna’s 12-piece ensemble.
Caldwell’s “Don’t Worry Mama” starts off with a near-breakbeat groove that soon morphs into a pulsing swell that seems to occur outside of time. The interplay between his two hands is potent here as they play alternating lines and grooves that converse with one another and the rest of the group in an almost fugue-like way. “Talk Talk” is another signature Caldwell composition that sounds like it is saying just that with its start-and-stop melody. It is similar to “Don’t Worry Mama” in that it starts out in a very different place than where it goes. This is an important factor in Caldwell’s music; it is never stagnant and instead surprises you in a way that seems natural.
Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” may be an unlikely piano trio tune, but somehow Caldwell-Mason makes it work. It is completely reimagined with an almost-classical counterpoint-style bridge section, and a soulful interpretation of the melody. I didn’t actually recognize the tune until I read the track listings.
Caldwell’s style is instrospective and dreamy. Single-note runs and chords are interspersed but there are never any truly breakneck lines. He opts instead to develop his emotional centers, and he succeeds in leaving the listener with a lasting feeling.