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Too thought out
Andrew Billek | 01/23/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"George Mraz is a superbly creative musician and a great bassist in an era of great bassists. I would go out of my way for Cyrus Chestnut and Al Foster anytime. But this recording disappoints. As the unnecessarily copious notes tell us, Mraz conceives of this album as a 'project.' That could be the problem. It's too well planned and the door is closed for that 'sound of surprise' that makes for the kind of excitement unique to jazz. It's too composed, no textural variety, no emotional involvement, no chance-taking. Rich Perry's stiff tone on tenor doesn't help. His playing is like a lesson in reading notes, playing properly - all feeling gets neutralized in being 'correct,' and eventually becomes tiring to listen to. Fans of Chestnut go elsewhere - he doesn't get much space, but when he does it gives the music vigor. Foster is among the most musical of drummers and his efforts to lend color are valiant and not wasted. But George's solos don't bloom. His desire to call attention to his fellow bassist-composers in the selection and arranging of material is a limiting idea - certainly not to him but to this listener. And, perhaps worst of all, a synthesizer is used on two cuts in the post production. After writing this I asked myself if I was in a bad mood -it's so easy to pan something. Was I missing something? I really don't think so!"