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Hamm, Stuart: Just Outside of Normal

It's been nearly a decade since the last solo release from acclaimed bassist Stuart Hamm, and though he's kept plenty busy playing with other artists, there was enough spare time for him to work on Just Outside of Normal over the last few years. For all of his fans, believe me when I say that the wait was well worth it.

Plenty of guest stars abound on Just Outside of Normal, which you can hear right off the bat on the first cut "The Obligatory Boogie", featuring some blistering guitar from Joe Satriani and the rock solid drumming of John Mader. Seriously, this tune contains some of the best Satch soloing I've heard in years. Hamm's solo bass take on Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" is just gorgeous, and when guitarist Mark McGee pops in with some wild lead melody lines, it's just icing on the cake.

Gotta love the whimsical "The Clarinet Polka", complete with accordion from Allison Lovejoy and Hamm's nimble fretwork, and "Windsor Mews" is a more laidback jazzy affair, almost like Hamm's take on Jaco Pastorius era Weather Report, except with Satriani taking over the Wayne Shorter rolo of soloist. Again, another gut-wrenching solo from Satch on this one. The title track is a more rootsy piece featuring a charming duet between Stuart and his brother Bruce on dotar, and "Adagio" is a classical piece, here arranged for piano & bass and given a great turn by Hamm and Terry Disley. A real surprise is the swing jazz number "Big Roller", an upbeat cut featuring sax player Karl Theobald and violinist Carlos Reyes. Fans of old style jazz will love this one, and Hamm and drummer Stanton Moore really play their parts well, giving thos one a real vintage feel.

"Uniformitarianism" sees Hamm once again working with old pal Frank Gambale in a duet situation, with the bassist's rich chords and melodies laying the groundwork for a searing solo from the guitar virtuoso. Closer "Lucidity" is layered with Hamm's lulling notes, Robert Fripp's soundscapes, soaring sax courtesy of Alex Murzyn, and some lovely vocals from Malika Alaoui, making for a tranquil end to this very enjoyable and diverse album.

Certainly not a 'shred fest' like some of Hamm's earlier output, Just Outside of Normal is just that, a little 'outside' of what we would normally expect from this great talent. There's a little something for everyone here-rock, jazz, fusion, pop, and experimental, which ultimately allows Just Outside of Normal to be one of the more diverse and satisfying instrumental themed releases I've heard in some time.

Track Listing
1.The Obligatory Boogie
2.Going to California
3.The Clarinet Polka
4.Windsor Mews
5.Just Outside of Normal
7.Big Roller

Added: January 30th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 2801
Language: english

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