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Phoenix Project, The: Tsunami

The Phoenix Project is a recently formed group led by saxophonist Ken Messer. The project has two albums to their credit, their most recent Tsunami is a two disc set. His band consists of Stan Smith (guitar), Aaron Quinn (guitar), Brad Mellin (six string electric cello), Ted Royalty (vibraphone, steel drums), Roger Hines (bass), Geoff Sullivan (drums) and Joe Nelson (percussion). Messer also plays theremin and kalimba.

Tsunami is a very nice jazz album and to make it more interesting Messer includes a few different styles like world music, ambient and ska.

It is important to note this is not a shred fest, the songs are well constructed yet there is plenty of room for improvisation and extended play. The first track "Rebound" features excellent guitar from Smith and Quinn. They have different styles and tones but each fits into the song nicely. In "Kalimba Waltz", Messer, not surpringly, plays the kalimba, an African instrument that has a tinny, metallic sound. It has a feel good breezy melody, just what you would expect from African influenced music. In the seventeen minute "Travonna Trance" Messer's theremin provides the spacey/ambient intro, which sounds very cool, before East Indian and other World themes are explored. It's a cohesive piece that flows beautifully and is sonically enriched from Mellin's outstanding cello playing. The title track is a calming affair with Messer's saxophone leading the melody as well as featuring some excellent guitar and nifty chord progressions while "Eastern Parallel" has an ambient intro compliments of the theremin. These dream-like sounds are heard as if they are from a distance before cello inundates the soundscape adding a rich layer and tone.

All the tracks are pure quality with not one dud in the bunch.

Overall, Tsunami features excellent musicianship and a variety of sounds and styles that serve these ten songs well. In the world of jazz, this album deserves your undivided attention.

Track Listing:
Disc 1
1. Rebound
2. Kalimba Waltz
3. Ms Scriven
4. Far Horizon
5. Travonna Trance

Disc 2
1. Tsunami
2. Eastern Parallel
3. Las Entcantadas
4. Pastel Blossoms
5. Travonna Trance

Added: June 21st 2013
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Facebook Page
Hits: 1549
Language: english

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Phoenix Project, The: Tsunami
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-07-18 16:23:27
My Score:

I do not have much to add to John Neudorf's excellent review. Imagine a double disc of delightful rhythm - packed jazz music with marimbas on a summer's day. This will no doubt take you away from all your troubles and cares.

Excellent guitar picking, drums and percussion firing on all cylinders, nice dripping bass, and those happy keys. You are not allowed to feel sad listening to this album. ;^)

I especially enjoyed the opener "Rebound" with its marimbas, "Kalimba Waltz", with its steel drums, "Ms Scriven", with its 'early morning waking up on a beach under a palm tree' opening, and "Far Horizon's" reggae beat off CD 1.

The over thirteen minute title track, "Tsunami" opens slowly, but catches wind quickly and is well supported with jeweled keys, and some breathtaking percussion scattered in between.

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