BIPOLAR was born in July 2005 because one morning, unexpectedly, I awakened with a fervent desire, after a long layoff, to return to jazz playing. A quintet would be ideal. It also occurred to me that my dear friend, Craig Swanson, a wonderful pianist (and man of many talents, musical and otherwise), may want to join me. He expressed enormous enthusiasm and that was all I needed to hear. Three more and we'd have our five.
Oddly, to this day, neither Stephanie Long nor I recall who introduced us but she came aboard as our sax player (alto & soprano - flute, as well). Through a friend I met our bass player, the incomparable David Ostrem. When the superb drummer, Barbara Merjan, joined us a bit later, we were ready to go.
We met for a few rehearsals and we were off. It just clicked. It clicked in that way you hope will happen but usually doesn't. Within six weeks we were playing in various New York venues and rehearsing to record our first CD, Euphrates, Me Jane which subsequently received unanimously excellent reviews.
Craig's playing reveals extreme concentration, stunning rhythmic imagination and one of the most comprehensive techniques you will hear today.
Stephanie brings a multitude of tones (sweetness all the way to brash) combined with thrilling, unexpected leaps and turns during daring improvs which allow and at times, force one to reevaluate the tune, itself. (I must add, a remarkable sight-reader.)
At twenty-four, Dave is a master of the double bass. He overwhelms his instrument with enormous technical prowess, dazzling improvs and a palpable passion for playing. I'll often write in the upper register simply to hear him bang out chromatic passages with total clarity which might tie up other bassists in knots.
Barbara's percussion chops are truly bold, imaginative in so many ways and always give the listener the feeling that there is massive reserved power.
BIPOLAR's aim is to demonstrate variety, energy, taste and almost always, departure from the norm. By spanning three centuries, we’re able to take a fresh look at some of the greatest music ever written.
Needless to say, I'm very proud of this exciting quintet.