Pino Palladino & Blake Mills
with Sam Gendel & Abe Rounds
For four decades Pino Palladino has been one of the most ubiquitous and versatile session bassists in music. Since performing on Paul Young’s 1983 hit “Wherever I Lay My Head (That’s My Home)” his weighty tone and liquid phrasing have turned up in countless places, none more effective than his role in crafting D’Angelo’s classic album Voodoo. Since then he has toured with the Who (replacing John Entwistle) and worked with Erykah Badu, Mos Def, and Kendrick Lamar, among countless others. Guitarist Blake Mills is half Palladino’s age, but he’s also a coveted session musician and producer working with the likes of Perfume Genius, John Legend, Fiona Apple, and Bob Dylan. He’s even made a couple of records under his own name, something Palladino had never done until he and Mills released the stunning Notes With Attachments in 2021.
The all-instrumental record is the product of two insanely imaginative musicians who’ve largely devoted themselves to making others sound better. Cumulatively they ended up forging a beguiling sound, colliding distended Afrobeat grooves one minute, abstracting classic Beach Boys the next. There’s an entire world of styles and approaches knitted into these elastic, sensual excursions, but the work never feels remotely dilettantish. The pair enlisted a slew of equally accomplished players according to the needs of each track, although LA saxophonist Sam Gendel ended up on nearly every one, his electronically-treated horn moving in and out of its traditional role and more often fusing with other instruments as key melodic voice. Among the other participants were drummer Chris Dave, violinist Andrew Bird, and organist Larry Goldings.
The music is alternately funky, introverted, pretty, and hypnotic. As a producer Mills blends different sonic qualities on each track so that certain instruments feel like they were recorded underwater while others deliver a trebly snap. It’s undeniably a player’s record. The performances are subtle, the timbre changes constantly, and the emphasis is on small gestures. In lesser hands this would be an indulgent mess, but the participants are so seasoned and possess such heightened listening ability that nothing feels extraneous or out of place. For this super rare performance Palladino, Mills, and Gendel are joined by drummer Abe Rounds, another LA studio pro with the chops and experience to fit right in.