David Rokeach - drummer
REVIEWS - David Rokeach, Drums

Chris Trinidad’s Changing Tides (Iridium Records, 2021)
by Shizuka Shearn Jazz Views with Shizuka Shearn 2.0
PUBLISHED: Jan 29, 2022

Changing Tides Chris Trinidad: bass guitar; Reggie Padilla: saxophones; Jamie Dubberly: trombones; Miguelito Valdes: trumpets and flugelhorns; Evan Francis: flute (1, 6, 7) Alex Hand: guitars; Christian Tumalan: piano (3, 4, 5. 6, 7) David Rokeach: drum set; Jose Sanchez: percussion.

The continuing pandemic, which began in 2020 is taking a toll of enormous proportions on everyone, particularly for musicians who play the genre of Black American Music. The fact that we are locked in such a bizarre, confusing and dangerous time, has given most people the idea of how great yesterday was. Nostalgia is a dichotomy, both wondrous and deceptive. We think of yesterday as if it was a beautiful time, and indeed it can be, but it is also empty. Once we relive memories, there’s a feeling of “ok, what’s next?” Nostalgia can also be a way to move ahead. Bassist Chris Trinidad who released the album Certain Times in 2014, has looked at a way to take that music in this time, which for the Filipino Canadian born, Bay area bassist, represented feelings of nostalgia and originally was written in December, 2013 during the season of Advent when those in the Christian faith make preparations for the Christmas holiday President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, and though such feelings existed long before, him, his election just unearthed a cauldron of division. Trump was (and still is) a microcosm of the division that has been built with unacceptable ideologies of select groups of people that made cancel culture the norm. The music on the original album was thus imbued with a sense of hope, a sense of nostalgia, but in this time of uncertainty, the music of Certain Times gained new meaning.

As the Governor of California at the time, Gavin Newsom had shut down the state of California, Trinidad had played with David Rokeach in the ensemble Voices of Praise and because of the pandemic, a lot of musicians unaccustomed to recording, had to adjust; a reason why there were a few recording maladies such as bongos sounding like a badly encoded MP3, take the bassist’s album Con Todo for example. Trinidad assisted the drummer with the recording process and found the inspiration for Changing Tides, his reimagination of Certain Times, facilitated by arranger Tony Corman, this is a big band album and with the help of technology this nonet, plays ALL the parts, so what sounds like multiple players is in fact each musician on their chosen instrument.

The thing that makes the arrangements shine to their full capacity on the new recording is the Rokeach-Trinidad backbone. Rokeach, a staple of the Bay Area scene, paid his dues with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Mavis Staples and others, so he adapts in many situations, completely in service to the music. Evan Francis’ flute solo soars over the half time rhythm section playing, and Reggie Padilla, who was heard to great effect on Trinidad’s Cancion Tagalog really lays deep into the drummer’s swing with an alto solo. During the half time sections, Rokeach is spare, punctuating proceedings in a way Antonio Sanchez did (and still does) to add more flavors in the comping. It is here that the big band arrangement really takes use of Corman’s skills– the brass and woodwinds form a call and response, in addition to some nice sections where the horns fall and stagger atop each other. Certain Times pianist Alex Conde, lends his arranging touch to “Something New In The Familiar”, the sassy strut of the saxophones seem as if they are being quite forward with their request of something, the trumpets offer a rather unimpressed answer in response. Alex Hand (who appeared on Chant Triptych II) has a beautiful solo blending thoughtful lines, with more jagged asides. Trinidad takes a wondrous melodic solo full of nothing but melodic fundamentals. The bassist rarely solos on his recordings, but the Jared Burrows arrangement affords him a chance to do so.

“Finding Somewhere Forever” reimagined by Kenny Wheeler acolyte Len Aruliah using his techniques in the arrangement is a ballad at first but morphs into a pretty waltz, with room for solos from Christian Tumalan’s lithe piano, Reggie Padilla on soprano, Cuban trumpeter Miguelito Valdes, and Jamie Dubberly on trombone. The track is perhaps the most adventurous on the album in which Aruliah writes some astonishing sections for brass and woodwinds, including a contrafact (a new melody over existing chords-think Miles Davis’ “Weirdo” based on “Walkin”) on the original tune. Baritone saxophonist Charlie Gurke’s arrangement of “A Reading In Retrospect” partly takes its cue from the minimalism of Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Once more Reggie Padilla slices and dices on the baritone saxophone, and Christian Tumalan floats like clouds in an azure sky. A hip unison baritone and left hand section follows with trumpets throwing out strong, stinging jabs.

The closing “Though Certainly Speaking”, arranged by Ivor Holloway is rollicking. The bass line is somewhat redolent of Pee Wee Ellis’ “The Chicken”, but the groovy 5/4 is some nice Latin heat. Reggie Padilla’s tenor is declarative and agile, and along with Alex Hand’s guitar solo, on the bridge part of the form Rokeach channels some Steve Gadd.


As usual with Chris Trinidad projects there is a remarkable consistency. As mentioned at the top of the review, because of the nature of the musicians recording in isolation due of the pandemic, the sonic issues that plagued Cancion Tagalog are not present here. There is a close miked quality and a wide sound stage that are quite pleasing and the recording has a lot of depth, mixed by Trinidad and mastered by Akiyoshi Ehara at Sleepy Wizard Studios in El Cerrito, CA.

Concluding Thoughts:

With Changing Tides, Chris Trinidad has taken the music of one of his best albums, and recast it in the way that only masters do and can. Master musicians find an endless durability in certain compositions, be it original or standards where their depth as artists combined with the knowledge of core concepts like rhythm, melody and harmony make for seemingly endless reinvention. The fact that Trinidad truly is a jack of all trades, master of none make his music worth investigating and exploring. If there are any caveats that can be had, it’s that he is not better known– the larger music world really needs to take notice.

Music: 9.5/10

Sound: 9/10

Equipment used:

Audiolab CDT6000 transport (for CD playback)

Focal Chora 826 speakers

Marantz NR 1200 (preamp)

Marantz MM7025 (power amp)

Schiit Bifrost 2 DAC

Audioquest Golden Gate Cables

Canare 4S11 10 ft speaker wire

Finding Somewhere Forever (feat. Len Aruliah, Miguelito Valdes, Christian Tumalan, Reggie Padilla & Jamie Dubberly) · Chris Trinidad

#big band #audiophile #jazz