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New Frontiers by Sean Grace

This album is billed as "A refreshing new sound where Contemporary Jazz meets Celtic Rock." I am not sure what Celtic Rock is, but I am certain that there is not much jazz going on here. That is not to say that the album is not well-crafted, it is, or that it does not reflect a high level of musicianship, it does. And it seems to have been well received in New Age circles, going to the #1 position on the New Age Review World Music / New Age radio charts, receiving the most cumulative airplay from over 170 radio stations world-wide during its first month on the charts. This apparently includes contemporary and smooth jazz, eclectic-rock and World-Music stations. The New Age Reporter states, "New Frontiers is a musical alchemist's cross-over dream. His Celtic-rock meets instrumental jazz formula puts him in his own class of musical wizardry."

Well I'm all for defying boundaries, and often get perplexed with reviewers who dismiss recordings for simply not being jazz, ignoring what musical value it may have outside of such considerations. So what can I say? New Age fans may love this recording. Smooth jazz lovers also. If you like Yanni, for example, you will probably enjoy this, especially if you like the Celtic overtones. But it certainly does not have the essential features needed for a great jazz recording. Can anyone say what these are? That's a tough one, but for me they are passion, spontaneity, a sense of musical interaction among the performers, and, of course, that certain je ne sais quoi that no-one can really put their finger on. The question is, are these also the criteria for any truly great music? I believe they are. And I don't find them here.

Keith Jarrett once referred to New Age music as "lobotomy music." This is a bit more lively than that and, as I have already said, it is well performed and very professionally produced. It is, indeed, pleasant enough to listen to. It just doesn't do anything for me and so, on that basis, I would judge that if you are looking for great jazz, which you should be at jazzreview.com, then this is not for you.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Sean Grace
  • CD Title: New Frontiers
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: NCA Records
  • Tracks: New Frontiers, Lark Spur, Street Flight, The Hunt, Winter Dreams, Falls Road, Sunflower, Jungo Lingo, Come With Me, Outlands, War Is Over
  • Musicians: Sean Grace - flutes, vocals, keyboards, programming, Lee Grayson - 6 & 12 string guitars, Jason Crosby - piano, keyboards, fiddle, Jack Night - bass, Steve Finkelstein, Joey Cardello - percussion, Jimmy Bralower - drum programming, Angela Ford, Bari Koral, Geraldine Grace-Konanez - vocals, Grant Benedis - additional programming
  • Rating: Two Stars
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