Monday, July 15, 2013

CD Review - "Quartette Humaine", Bob James / David Sanborn

1984, twenty-nine years ago, two well established jazz stars coordinated their schedules so they could record together. The result was the highly successful "Double Vision" CD. This was before "smooth jazz" had earned such a negative connotation. These two are back with a new recording, their status now solidly established as two of the elder statesmen of the music. The younger, brash sound of these upstart musicians climbing the ladder of jazz notoriety is still present. 

It's rounded out now years of mastering their respective instruments. There is a touch and sensitivity to the ballads that puts the listener in an emotional and mental state of their own choosing. Rounding out the quartet (formed with intent to emulate the legendary Dave Brubeck quartets) are James Genus on bass, and Steve Gadd on drums. Genus anchors the groove, while Gadd provides just the right dynamics. The music is exciting, contemplative, adventurous, and reflective.

This is music from another time, but very much today. They kick things off with the carefree, swingin' "You Better Not Go To College". It's. tasty track that serves as a warmup of things to come. Then comes the captivating Geste Humaine, which grabs your attention within the first few bars, and never lets go. This group glides through the tracks with the seamless finesse only a veteran group can bring.

They work through a number of new compositions by both James and Sanborn, with the free-wheeling style brought about by a veteran quartet in a live, studio recording. “Another Time, Another Place” was a standout track on Sanborn’s 2005 Release, “Closer”. The updated version by this band takes an already exotic gem to a whole different space. So much so, you could play both tracks, back to back, and feel two different vibes. From beautiful ballads like Sanborn’s “Sofia”, to the near baroque, intricate romp of James’ “Follow Me”, you can tell these guys are having a great time. It comes through on stage that way too. If you have a chance to catch them on their current tour, jump on it. In the meantime, enjoy this great release.

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