Only a jazzman would promise “a collection of compositions that tell the story of my life” on the inside jacket of his debut album—then hit you with seven instrumentals. Fair enough. Baton Rouge native and Eric Lindell bassist takes Myles Weeks up the acoustic version of his instrument on Sense of Self, mostly laying down a restless series of shifting rhythms with drummer Simon Lott while Joe Ashlar overlays his own shifting series of ninth-chord improvs, sometimes tussling with Weeks himself. In the cracks, however, you do find some appropriate moods: the disc begins with “Delivery” and ends with “Passing.” In between, you can catch the flowering of confused adolescence in the pensive “Contrary to Popular Belief,” a little angry discord trapped in the grooves of middle-aged “Regrets,” and the playful joy of apotheosis in “Golden.”
That last features a un-credited female voice which pops up throughout Sense of Self as the only non-musical commentary, laughing like she’s at the world’s greatest party; elsewhere, she welcomes “Mylesie” into the world on “Delivery” and flat-out tells him, “You need to be a better person” after the turmoil of “Regrets.” Precious? You bet—especially since Mylesie is merely 26 and admittedly imagining the last two-thirds of his existence. It’s also descriptive and warm and ultimately honest, as free jazz must be, so much so that the occasional bursts of sunshiny shuffle in “Dementia” only make its necessary disintegration that much more powerful. “Passing” sets off Weeks’ final peace of mind against the pathos of his own cello solo, as if he were watching himself pass as well. Clearly Myles’ sense of self includes his listeners—which is essential when you’re aiming this high.