This is not my usual cup of tea. I try to stay away from anything that skirts with the definitions of smooth jazz or new age. I think of both genres as music for people with short attention spans. This CD is good for me. First of all, because Buhler is a veteran musician - a well respected clarinetist and saxophonist - who is also a long time member of the group, Honk. Honk has produced five records or CDs in its 30 year life and toured with the Beach Boys and opened concerts for Chicago, Jesse Colin Young and Jackson Browne. While Buhler has produced six additional jazz CDs and appeared on 25 others.
I, myself, have done none of this though I have, as Mike Royko once observed, written the equivalent of 14 books. So, I am humbled by Buhler's Capistrano Sessions and its humbling effect on my false preconceptions. I like it; I even enjoy it. Yes, these are more, I suppose, tone poems, as a lot of decomposing composers used to call them (see M. Python) than full score mind boggling improvisations upon improvisations.
Buhler has also authored two original music books, one featuring 54 jazz etudes - 54 more than I've ever written - and the other, an ear training method book. In his spare time, he is the solo tenor saxophonist with the 19 piece Star Dust Big Band, has presented jazz for youth concerts at over 100 schools and is the improv coach for three school bands. So, I'm all ears, Professor Buhler. Without people like you and my daughter's teachers: Professor Herbie Lewis formerly of New College; Berklee School of Music grad, Melissa Bledsoe; and her two earliest jazz influences, Richard Davis and Roscoe Mitchell, she's still be a classical concert pianist. Davis and Mitchell always played the benefits for the Children's Montessori School of Mt. Horeb, WI. The other Montessori School had Ben Sidran. Say, that's pretty good too. I even once got to watch Wynton Marsalis teach a high school class in Anchorage and learned why they call him, Professor.
So, thank you, Craig Buhler. I'm going to play your CD a lot more than I had (pre?) planned. Maybe I'll learn something. I know my daughter and all her young jazz musician friends did because of players and teachers like you.
Buhler also surrounds himself with class. Drummer, Paul Kreibich has played with Woody Herman, Ray Charles and Carmen McRae. Hey, I'm from Milwaukee and I once met Herbie Stewart (Thundering Herd), the man Stan Getz called his greatest influence other than the obvious one - Prez. Trumpeter, fugelhornist and vibist, Brian Atkinson, has worked with Lou Rawls, Natalie Cole and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Bassist Joel Hamilton is an LA studio musician who has performed with Phil Woods and many others. All eleven pieces here are originals as befits Buhler, it seems. My favorites are Lookear, because it's a play on words; Capistrano, because of the swallows who come back to it; and Harbor Cafe Blues. Who doesn't like Harbor Cafes, and the blues? I know I do. Listen to find out which ones are yours.