SSC1706 2023-10-06

Track List

The Boot - 8:37
What Love - 11:02
Sheep Shank - 10:16
Nostalgia - 8:52
Comment Section - 5:30
Gnosis - 9:03


Ethan Philion - bass
Greg Ward - alto saxophone
Russ Johnson - trumpet
Dana Hall - drums

Following up his debut album Meditations on Mingus (“Ingenious wrinkles along with dazzling and deeply realized performances from all” — Neil Tesser, Jazziz), bassist Ethan Philion pivots from a larger 10-piece unit to a spry, economical quartet on his brilliant sophomore release Gnosis. The spirit of Charles Mingus is present, most clearly in the quartet’s treatment of “What Love” (Mingus’ epic deconstruction of the Cole Porter standard “What Is This Thing Called Love”). But the focus on this new outing is original music, played with drive and ceaseless invention by alto saxophonist Greg Ward, trumpeter Russ Johnson and drummer Dana Hall joining the leader on bass.

“The title Gnosis refers to intangible knowledge, the things we learn from the qualities of an experience rather than explicit teaching,” explains Philion. “In religious settings the term often means a knowledge of a spiritual presence. For me, improvising with a group that is connected through deep listening and a shared mindset gives me the sense of touching something inQinite. Playing with Russ, Greg and Dana has given me a deeper knowledge of music, and of myself, in ways that transcend any specific guidance.”

Johnson and Hall were integral to the Meditations on Mingus ensemble. Ward, leader of the acclaimed Rogue Parade, had a major inQluence on Philion in his Qirst few years as a Chicagoan. “I studied with Dana while working toward my master’s from DePaul University,” the bassist recalls, “and I learned from Greg at his weekly jam session at the Hungry Brain and from performing with him.” The connection with Johnson is more recent but no less important: “Russ’s playing was already a source of inspiration by the time we started working together. I'm fortunate to work with him often in this group, in my Mingus project and in his quartet with Mark Feldman and Tim Daisy.”