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Illinois Jazz Project by Daniel Peterson

It’s a bad sign when an artist asks a reviewer to "ignore the low rent back-up band" on his CD. It shows a lack of confidence in the finished product. The back-up band which is featured on several tracks of guitarist Daniel Peterson’s Illinois Jazz Project is, indeed, pretty bad. But how does that explain the light-weight renditions of "Windy" (apparently dedicated to Wes Montgomery, who might actually have done something worthwhile with this song) or "Spooky?" I realize that somebody has to record the music played in elevators and dentist’s offices, but it seems out of place on an ostensible "jazz" CD.

Mysteriously, no back-up band is credited on the CD insert, and the other review sent by the artist himself (from the May issue of Vintage Guitar magazine) suggests that Peterson overdubbed the entire album. A puzzle, but since Peterson apologized for the band in a handwritten note, one has to assume that there is one.

The twenty tracks on this CD are extremely short, some ending abruptly as though someone had simply turned off the tape recorder. The tracks with the band (if it exists) are poor while the solo tracks are dull. Peterson has decorated the back of his CD with laudable quotations from various publications, most of which say things like "An exceptional guitarist" and ".... a skilled guitarist who is pleasing to hear." That’s a bit like covering a can of Spaghetti-Os with quotes like "A food product" and ".... these little bits of pasta are certainly shaped like ‘O’s!" Can Peterson play? Sure. Is it pleasing? Perhaps to gray haired, pony-tailed Baby Boomers who are looking for something "smooth" to match their lifestyles. I found little of substance on this CD. It is, in fact, very much the musical equivalent of a bowl of Spaghetti-Os.

Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh. Peterson can certainly play guitar, but the material and the final product are seriously lacking. If, indeed, Peterson was forced to choose between working under sub-standard conditions and making an album at all, perhaps he should have waited. The Illinois Jazz project is clearly not all Peterson had envisioned and, one suspects, far less than his ability on his instrument suggests. Better luck next time.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Daniel Peterson
  • CD Title: Illinois Jazz Project
  • Genre: Smooth Jazz
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Landmark
  • Tracks: Thats Right (Gratitude); Everything You Said; Look On The Bright Side; Somewhere Near Kansas City; Windy (Dedicated to Wes); Spooky; Smile; She Told Me; Almost Every Day; Yes; I Love You; Tal's Lesson (A Tribute to Tal Farlow Based On Solo Lines By Tal); Peace Begins With You; We Have Freedom; If You Believe; New Day To Love; Love Song; December; Ok By Me; Kick It; Go (Go Irish)
  • Rating: One Star
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