Mike Brannon - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Wed, 24 May 2017 04:51:15 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb X-Rated Musical by Larkin McLean http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/x-rated-musical-by-larkin-mclean.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/x-rated-musical-by-larkin-mclean.html It's been a good year for LA vocalist/songwriter Larkin McLean. Since the fall, she's covered a lot of ground, including: releasing her latest CD, "X-Rated Musical" and …

It's been a good year for LA vocalist/songwriter Larkin McLean. Since the fall, she's covered a lot of ground, including: releasing her latest CD, "X-Rated Musical" and two videos for the project, being added to a 30k unit Euro-compilation disc, giving her piano recital and partying at the Playboy mansion.

For those unfamiliar with McLean, this is her sophmore release. Though it's not a major label release, the arrangements and production down to the last guitar notes will likely evoke references to Donald Fagan's 'Nightfly'. But don't let that fool you; there's another kind of humor at work here. She pulls you in with a sultry voice you feel you know, only to whipser something you never expected with a delivery that says, she knows something you don't, but wants to tell if you'll let her. But the story wouldn't end there. Though its clearly a lot of fun, it would be superficial to dismiss this as simply lounge as there's a lot more going on. It's too unique and there's a definite island feel to everything, regardless of the chosen groove it's set to. It's music to have a hip weekend in the Bahamas or Bermuda by. The sex and relationship material is all taken from (someone's) reality but is good-natured and she leaves you with no doubt that it could happen to you. Along with the tongue-in-cheekiness, there's a cool, funky kind of kitsch happening as Larkin's voice is ever present to cajole, inflame and inspire desire, but after all, that's what this collection is all about.

As McLean herself puts it, "You'll never hear me scatting in public. I'll call myself a pop singer. I do songs with a jazz feel. I just approach songs with humility and put my personality in it."

Consider the LA session players McLean's collected for "X-rated Musical": Producer/arranger/bassist, Kenny Lyon has worked with the Divinyls and Lemonheads. Keyboardist Michael Boito has recorded or toured with Beck, Bjork, Sonic Youth and the Brand New Heavies. Mike Bolger (trumpet/trombone) lists stints with Jewel and guitar legend Ry Cooder. Danny Frankel (drums) has worked with Jewel, Fiona Apple, KD Lang, Lou Reed, Marianne Faithful and Madelaine Peyroux and David Railcke has toured or recorded with Beck, Macy Gray, Ben Harper, Natalie Merchant and Greg Kurstin's Action Figure Party. Scott Breadman has worked with Paul Simon, Rick James, Pat Benetar, Morphine and The Cult, among others.

"Devil Tuesday" opens with a loose steel guitar to a backbeat thing with a tinpan alley bridge. "Do I still Love You" breaks with a retro groove organ in a pseudo bossa. A keys lick repeats and fades as if to underscore the lyrics: "that was a lifetime ago." "Giving" almost evokes Jobim with its Latin treatment. The title track, "X-Rated Musical," persuades with a backdrop of Tahitian Ukelele (ok, it sounds like a Hawaiian steel guitar), but it's cool. "Don't Wake Up" is rhythm changes with a vamp; cocktail vibe with muted trumpet. Let's dream some more.

"I Get to Be Me" is a choice ballad. "In The Life We never Spent Together" could have been the album title. "Roma Roma" is infectious as it teases with the dichotomy of distance - you cant catch me. "You're alone and I'm in Rome. Just like Evita in 'la Dolce Vita." Careless, carefree and innocently taunting. You can't manage anything but a smile with this on. "Nobody Gets Over Ava" is about her best friend. You know the type...they've got something you never forget, or want to, but then so does Larkin, and so does this album. Enjoy.

"X-rated Musical" can be found on CDbaby.com. Larkin's website is www.larkinmclean.com.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Jazz Vocals - CD Reviews Sat, 27 Aug 2005 01:00:00 -0500
Bloom by Eric Johnson http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/bloom-by-eric-johnson.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/bloom-by-eric-johnson.html Bloom by Eric Johnson
With the unseasonably cool South Texas Spring of 2005 comes, "Bloom", the long awaited Favored Nations release of legendary guitarist, Eric Johnson’s first full band album …
With the unseasonably cool South Texas Spring of 2005 comes, "Bloom", the long awaited Favored Nations release of legendary guitarist, Eric Johnson’s first full band album in nine years. Joined by special guests Shawn Colvin and Adrian Legg along with members of his regular touring band.

Described as a ‘diverse musical experience’, the sixteen tracks of "Bloom" are arranged into prelude, courante and allamande sections, but don’t let that fool you, the album smokes on all burners, each in it’s own way.

The title track and "Summer Jam" jumpstart the album, hitting like a sonic hurricane, bringing out the blistering range of attack and tone Johnson has in his arsenal. You can imagine some serious pedal dancing happening when the latter is done live. "Summer Jam" initially invokes Hendrix giving way to vintage Zeppelin and Stevie Ray in the signature harmonic ensemble stabs.

Among the standouts are "Sad Legacy", a powerful anti-war/oppression message rhetorically and soulfully asking if we want a change in the way this country of ours is currently run or would we rather allow it to become a part of our "sad legacy". It’s become a personal favorite, already enduring enough play to make it glad its not on vinyl. "12 to 12 Vibe" takes us back to pure vintage Eric via way of Cream and the psychedelic side of Hendrix’s blues. Serious chops abound with vibe and tone to burn. "Sea Secret" is a lush, beautiful ballad taken on nylon string with piano accompaniment. "Hesitant" is simply Wes saturated, with brilliant use of octaves . If not for the rhythm section, you might almost thing you’re listening to an outtake from "Boss Guitar" or "Grooveyard".

Dylan’s "My Back Pages" gets a signature Johnson/Hendrix treatment with blazing, saturated, yet lyrical guitar interjections. "Good to Me" has a Peter Gabriel vibe with EJ on both guitar and talk-box. "Cruise the Nile" really takes you on that journey. Nice use of sitar, long, bent slurs and percussion.

"Tribute to Jerry Reed" might seem at first to belong on another album, maybe even in another store, with its Travis picking and pedal steel effects, but you have to realize its Eric at his eclectic best. Don’t be fooled, even though he alleges he’s lightening up on himself, everything Johnson records still has to far beyond par. Think Texas Playboys if it helps. It’s still a blues, after all.

Eric’s joined by Shawn Colvin for "Your Sweet Eyes", which opens with striking, spare, solo Nylon string which flows into a melodic, bluesy pop groove. Both voices blend almost as if they’re each other’s yin-yang. "Magnetized" brings out Eric’s funky, experimental, rocked-out side with a Robin Ford/ Larry Carlton tone; wah intact. "Bloom" closes with "Ciel", an intimate, peaceful solo flamenco piece accompanied with string and keys swells.

The Bloom tour starts June 8th in Austin and the album streets on June 14th. Kaki King, Adrian Belew and others will open the dates. For more info on the Summer tour, CD, news, videos, and the EJ signature guitar giveaway visit www.ericjohnson.com

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Other - CD Reviews Sat, 05 Mar 2005 12:00:00 -0600
The Way Up by Pat Metheny Group http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/the-way-up-by-pat-metheny-group.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/the-way-up-by-pat-metheny-group.html The world renown Pat Metheny Group, now almost 30 years, 200 compositions, 7,000 gigs and 16 Grammy awards into their collective career, is about to release "The Way Up", t…
The world renown Pat Metheny Group, now almost 30 years, 200 compositions, 7,000 gigs and 16 Grammy awards into their collective career, is about to release "The Way Up", their first effort on new label, Nonesuch and though every release may not be groundbreaking, this one is. Startling and riveting, to say the least, in its 68 minute journey - which is all a single piece (though ID’d as four for track navigation purposes)- another groundbreaking aspect of "The Way Up".

Just the fact that Metheny’s now recognized by the Grammy board in more categories - nine - than any other artist ever says a lot relative to his mindset in creating music in the first place: nothing's off limits, for one. Among the adjectives that quickly come to mind are: fearless, fiercely original, exploratory, insular, expansive, lyrical and again, truly ground-breaking. With the continued blurring of stylistic boundaries, limitless energy and spirituality present, this is the record many of us have felt was always in this group, just waiting to happen. And it has; a tour-de-force if there’s ever been one.

Making profound use of recently added drummer Antonio Sanchez, the group easily navigates territory even they had only previously hinted at exploring. At once, film score, small-band-does-its-highly-dynamic-orchestral thing, and group improvisation concerto. Unexpected textures blending relentlessly, yet seamlessly into a cohesive whole that constantly keeps you seat-edged and continuously surprised, as the spirit of all great jazz and true improvisation is meant to do.

Still the core group of keyboardist/co-composer Lyle Mays, bassist Steve Rodby and Metheny playing with and off of Sanchez is what makes it all happen. Though bassist Richard Bona from ‘02’s "Speaking of Now’ has left, the group’s still expanded by the brilliantly articulate trumpet texturalist/vocalist Cuong Vu and new add harmonicist Gregorie Maret. In addition, the group will also be adding Nando Lauria to the lineup.

"We found ourselves with a drummer who is probably one of the most talented musicians of his generation", says Metheny regarding Sanchez. "His presence in the band really gave me the chance to kind of reflect on everything this group has historically been all about and where we could take it from here.... .there was this sense of the possibilities feeling totally unlimited", Pat continues.

On "The Way Up", Pat’s in rare form, devouring the changes with patented abandon like they were an unexpected Thanksgiving meal on a deserted island as the group supports, interjects and builds the dynamic intensity over the long haul.

Though far from derivative, the last third of the second ‘movement’ inadvertently manages to evoke references to "Goodbye Porkpie Hat". At times the group almost presents as a hybrid between the Metheny group and trio, which may not be that much a surprise considering how much time Pat spends on the road with the trio, also including Sanchez.

As far as the creation of the composition goes, Metheny articulates that he and co-writer Mays have gravitated towards longer forms, but nothing yet like this, "There is a compositional integrity to the whole thing as a single piece. Each part of the structure is supported and dev-eloped over time and there are connections between things that are slowly revealed over the course of the whole piece" he explains. "Recording a long form piece like this had challenges that we had never really run across before and in many ways was like shooting a film", Metheny continues.

In the process of its creation and performance a realization of the politics and value of the music relative to the world as it is ensued: "At the time we started this writing, we saw this as kind of a protest record. It could be seen as our protest against a world where fear has become a political and cultural weapon". Amen. "A protest against a world where a lack of nuance and detail is considered a good thing, a protest against a culture that values that which can be consumed in the smallest bites over the kinds of efforts and achievements that can only come with a lifetime of work and study". "We wanted to present something modern using modern tools and techniques to give another perspective. We wanted to go deep inside the things we felt this material and this group could offer, and extend them. This is a continuation of everything we’ve been doing. I think we’ve been leading towards an effort like this for quite awhile"

It's going to be interesting to see how the group takes such an ambitious project to the live stage, but we’ll get our chance later this winter when PMG takes it from the road to you.

"The Way Up" streets January 25th and the tour begins February 17th in Buffalo, NY.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Contemporary Jazz - CD Reviews Mon, 03 Jan 2005 06:00:00 -0600
Move A Mountain by Dallas Johnson http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/soul-/-funk-jazz-cd-reviews/move-a-mountain-by-dallas-johnson.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/soul-/-funk-jazz-cd-reviews/move-a-mountain-by-dallas-johnson.html Dallas Johnson, a new vocal talent on the horizon has released "Move A Mountain". Well supported by a talented, accomplished cast of sidemen, including the late Mark Ledfor…
Dallas Johnson, a new vocal talent on the horizon has released "Move A Mountain". Well supported by a talented, accomplished cast of sidemen, including the late Mark Ledford (Pat Metheny Group), Estaire Godinez (Prince, George Benson), Mike Scott, (Prince, Janet Jackson), Tommy Elm (Prince) and Dave Barry (kd lang), she navigates everything from urban groove to neo-bossas and bluesy ballads.

Atmospheric, introspective and far ranging, Dallas’ voice shines with mellifluous soul on the material aptly driven by gospel backup vocals. Check out "One Day Before Long" and "The Shadow" for choice Chaka Khan influenced treatments and cool funk guitar.

"Like a Fountain" evokes bluesy visions of Cassandra Wilson with its open African percussion treatment while "Letting Go", "Throw it Away" and the closer, Jobim’s "Desifinado" takes the listener into a Brazilian dream.

All in all, a really very worthy sonic journey.

For more info and to hear this disc visit: www.cdbaby.com

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Soul / Funk Jazz - CD Reviews Sun, 11 Jul 2004 03:08:42 -0500
Jazz Camp by Chris Vestre Group http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/jazz-camp-by-chris-vestre-group.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/jazz-camp-by-chris-vestre-group.html You know when you say "cool", like in response to nearly everything these days?This is an album that actually makes that response make perfect sense. The band is mostly …
You know when you say "cool", like in response to nearly everything these days?This is an album that actually makes that response make perfect sense.

The band is mostly Austin vets: acoustic bassist Chris Maresh from Eric Johnson’s group(plus performances with Bonnie Raitt, Ellis Marsalis, Abra Moore, Tish Hinojosa), drummer Jon Greene (with Torch, along with Vestre) and vibist Aaron Lack.

Vestre’s tunes are relaxed, eighth-note based (aside from the ballads) and authentic to supporting the stated vibe; each sounding as if it’s the changes to a familiar standard that doesn’t exist. Guitar solos are often stylistically punctuated with chordal interjections, commentary and the expected bluesy, bent, mid-century organ trio diads a la Benson, Green et al. Sometimes nicely introspective as on "Looking Ahead" and always groovin’ overall.

As the vibe (and vibes) reflect, the sound on Vetre’s debut, "Jazz Camp" is vintage retrolounge, down to the tone itself: dry and clear. The influences range from organ trio Burrell to Red Norvo with Tal Farlow. Yeah, that retro. You can almost hear the glasses clinking in anticipation of Martini’s being shaken (not stirred) in the background. And there’s no hurry, either to get there or to lay down excessive chops; just a cool time journey well worth taking; the perfect foil as the weather gets cooler and the skies darken earlier now. With the holiday’s fast approaching, make sure its on your list.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Mon, 03 May 2004 23:05:19 -0500
Shine by Theresa Andersson http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/shine-by-theresa-andersson.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/shine-by-theresa-andersson.html Ok, so this may not be a jazz group in its purest sense, (is Bill Frisell for that matter?) but New Orleans based Theresa Anderson's music is built from the same foundation…
Ok, so this may not be a jazz group in its purest sense, (is Bill Frisell for that matter?) but New Orleans based Theresa Anderson's music is built from the same foundations that created all jazz, R&B, funk, rock and pop: the Blues. Yet its not strictly a blues band either, though a sense of soul is always present, and that's what makes us listen to whatever it is we're attracted to - the fact that it makes us feel something.

I first had the chance to hear Anderson's group at this year's South by South West Music/Media conference in Austin courtesy of Madison House, her pr company. And though I don't tend to review albums very often - mostly the likes of Pat Metheny, Norah Jones, Dave Weckl - something hit me about this one.

Though the album is really a blast, as evidenced by the SXSW showcase Andersson is someone you have to hear live to get the true, full experience of this band. Something I'd recommend highly.

On this, "Shine", her debut release for Basin St. she makes her way through a set of lively originals in various styles that'll either make you want to jump or recall another time altogether. From the self referential "Connected" to "Good Girl", you know its going to be a party both intrumentally and vibe wise. Perfect Summer vacation traveling music.

Great support from Bonnie Raitt's keys player/vocalist, Jon Cleary and soulful guitarist extraordinaire, Sonny Landreth.

Mike Brannon is guitarist/writer for the Synergy Group (www.cdbaby.com/synergy). Their latest release is "Barcodes" w/ members of King Crimson and the Grammy-winning Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. The soon to be released, "Later", w/ special guests, Bill Evans, Harvie Swartz, Paul Wertico will be released on Nextep this Summer.
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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Other - CD Reviews Wed, 04 Feb 2004 06:00:53 -0600
Stereonucleosis by Paul Wertico http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/stereonucleosis-by-paul-wertico.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/stereonucleosis-by-paul-wertico.html Though most of us likely know of drummer Paul Wertico from his 18 years and 7 Grammys with the Pat Metheny Group, what many may not know is that Wertico's also got his own …
Though most of us likely know of drummer Paul Wertico from his 18 years and 7 Grammys with the Pat Metheny Group, what many may not know is that Wertico's also got his own group with whom he's been performing and recording for years. This is where he is most himself: eclectic, powerful, stylistically fearless and original.

"Stereonucleosis", Wertico's latest release on A440 allows the entire ensemble to shine on collaborative originals which run from West African solo drumming rainforest action to vintage fusion and rock a la Mahavishnu, Crimson, Floyd, Zepplin; all influences that have been a part of him since growing up in 60's Chicago.

Though with Metheny's projects he's had the chance to work with everyone from Charlie Haden, Ernie Watts, Gil Goldstein, Derek Bailey and David Bowie and his own "The Yin and the Yout" was populated with legends Dave Holland, Dave Liebman, Richie Bierach, Vic Bailey and Metheny himself, Wertico sees this release as a true personal statement. And it really does come across as that.

Fans of Metheny, Crimson, McLaughlin, Scofield, MMW and Charlie Hunter should all enjoy "Stereonucleosis".
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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Fusion - CD Reviews Wed, 04 Feb 2004 02:00:52 -0600
The Form of Space by QB3 http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/the-form-of-space-by-qb3.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/the-form-of-space-by-qb3.html The Form of Space by QB3
QB3's a new group with a hefty number of influences spread across seven cuts.From original funk and deep-house to ambient and odd metered excursions, all contemporary bases…
QB3's a new group with a hefty number of influences spread across seven cuts.From original funk and deep-house to ambient and odd metered excursions, all contemporary bases are covered. Comprised of guitarist Fred Geruntab, drummer Chris "Root" Heinz and acoustic bassist Emek Rave. They are joined by vet keyboardist/ producer Peter Fish (Carly Simon, Johnny Winter) on 5 cuts and the soulful vocals of Audrey Brand are added to "boom!".

To break down each cut, "Electric Monk" is a Medeski, Martin & Wood meets an early Benson in a groovy 7/4 pocket. "Knee Deep Devotion" leans more to Sco and Charlie Hunter with its over chorused, testifying blues lines. "Wake Up Call" gets a more relaxed vibe and straight-eighth feel, albeit in 11/4 and 12/4 which at times references Mahavishnu. Fish gets some great vintage keys textures on Fender Rhodes and Clav. Some great and tasteful guitar/keys interplay and development take place here. "Before Dawn", the only ballad is taken as a chord melody statement by guitar which is then backed by acoustic piano. Both instruments take thoughtful solos with a nice deceptive vamp tag on the outro. "boom!" again reminds of MMW and Scofield's "Electic Outlet" era as it layers in female vocals, trippy vocodered effects and tense harmony over an increasingly manic rhythm section. On the loose, space-laden treatment of "Every 26", Geruntab makes use of an 11 string fretless guitar in a very kyoto-like manner. It'll likely remind you of Metheny's recent use of the same instrument. The CD closes nicely with the title track, "The Form of Space".

It ain't your father's jazz, but then again you ain't your father. Cool grooves and textures abound. Bring it to your next rave, it'll stay in the changer awhile.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Fusion - CD Reviews Sun, 23 Jun 2002 13:00:00 -0500
First Visit by Gerry Gibbs and Third Trio From the Sun http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/first-visit-by-gerry-gibbs-and-third-trio-from-the-sun.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/first-visit-by-gerry-gibbs-and-third-trio-from-the-sun.html If you need a recording to reference for the sheer purpose of seeing how huge a trio can sound, this is it. If you want a great example of a sense of humor in music, again …
If you need a recording to reference for the sheer purpose of seeing how huge a trio can sound, this is it. If you want a great example of a sense of humor in music, again this is your disc. If you want proof Ken Burn's and Marsalis are dead wrong to have overlooked improvised music of the 70's, this is your proof. If you want to cut through all the BS and hear some seriously inspired, creative music played by a very seasoned and open-minded trio on approximately 15 instruments collectively, this is still the one. All this barely begins to codify what you'll hear within the 19 cuts of Gerry Gibbs' "First Visit".

The discernible influences include 70's defining elements, the Headhunters, Chick Corea, Weather Report, McCoy Tyner, Steve Grossman, Cecil Taylor and the more modern proponents of 70's acoustic funk and the B3: Medeski, Martin and Wood. But consider the instrumentation: Drums, Bass, Piano/B3 augmented by Theramin, Melodica, Rhodes, Harmonica, Trumpet, Sax, Dulcimer, Steel Pans and Kalimba and you almost get a Jaco's "Word of Mouth" approved outing.

Live you're as likely to hear Weather Report's "Mr. Gone" and Tyner's "Fly Like the Wind" as Gibb's charged and inspired originals. Not to mention the gratuitous New York City traffic report (don't ask) and nods to hard swingin organ trios, big bands, silent movie bands and electronica, complete with wah's, Moog's, Arp's and bass pedals, it seems no influence is safe from exploitation.

Current group members Andy Langham (keys, organ, Rhodes, clavinet), Brandon Rivas (bass) and Rene Saenz (tenor, soprano, flute) perform regularly in San Antonio with Gibbs (who's on sabbatical from the city), The Synergy Group (http://www.cdbaby.com/synergy) and others. They plan to tour at the end of the year.

Gibbs and company's resumes are extensive. Gerry's performed with McCoy Tyner, Ravi Coltrane and Brad Melhdau (both in his previous band), Arthur Blythe, Mike Stern, Larry Coryell, Joe Henderson and many others. Bassist Rivas has worked with Donald Harrison, Delfayo Marsalis, Mike Stern, Brian Blade and others.

This is as open and committed a recording as you're likely to hear and another with the new group is in the cards. In the meantime, get ready to be surprised, amazed and seriously impressed. Get ready to say, "who the hell are these guys"?, and mean it. If you need a recording to reference for the sheer purpose of seeing how huge a trio can sound, this is it. If you want a great example of a sense of humor in music, again this is your disc. If you want proof Ken Burn's and Marsalis are dead wrong to have overlooked improvised music of the 70's, this is your proof. If you want to cut through all the BS and hear some seriously inspired, creative music played by a very seasoned and open-minded trio on approximately 15 instruments collectively, this is still the one. All this barely begins to codify what you'll hear within the 19 cuts of Gerry Gibbs' "First Visit".

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Other - CD Reviews Fri, 04 May 2001 07:00:00 -0500
Transition by Dave Weckl Band http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/transition-by-dave-weckl-band.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/transition-by-dave-weckl-band.html Weckl's latest "Transition" might cause you to think you've found a "Weather Report" disc you'd never heard and even check the cover again to be sure. The music is all orig…
Weckl's latest "Transition" might cause you to think you've found a "Weather Report" disc you'd never heard and even check the cover again to be sure. The music is all original and though not a tribute, this is a welcome influence.

One exception is keyboardist Weingart evoking (Stretch Records exec producer) Chick's presence on his solo and keyboard sound on "Braziluba" which winds its way into one of leader Weckl's patented percussion clinics backed by ensemble kicks. It's a great workout and everything is recorded and mixed great (mix by Dave). The cymbals are really there on this as is the personality of each shell and head.... yet not over the top, imaged just right for what's happening in the music. The drums do tend to have a specific, slightly compressed sound in the mix but there's a good balance and great tone.

"Like That" and "Mild Hysteria" are back to later WP circa Vic Bailey, even down to the keys sounds and extended endings. Saxist Fields is really happening on the later and Weingart shines on a solo Zawinal might even be proud of as well as on "Crossing Paths", where bassist Kennedy has his moments as well. "Passion" shows they really know how to develop a ballad and really keep the interest. "Amanecer" tries almost everything in its 8.5 minutes, even an unexpected Salsa finale, which concludes the disc.

Those expecting a sequel to "Synergy" need to keep an open mind. The absence of Feiten's guitar textures and Jay Oliver's influence causes this to be a different record altogether. But this is a great group with a lot of potential and one to be watched. Let's hope they bring us more.

Weckl keeps a strong, turgid flow happening behind and throughout the project. He keeps things interesting and intense, constantly throwing the players hooks to hang onto, feeding ideas and still developing every possible moment into something it wasn't, as only he can.

There are no weak moments. These guys make it come to life. The record grooves hard through it all and has a real soul of its own, and in any music (and life) that's what really matters.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mike Brannon) Fusion - CD Reviews Sun, 10 Sep 2000 07:00:00 -0500