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Rare Blend: Stops Along the Way

I was duly impressed with the last release from Rare Blend titled Evolution Theory. Now a new album has arrived and I could feel the anticipation mounting as I waited for its arrival. Stops Along The Way, their fourth album, did not disappoint in any way. This is their strongest work to date.

As with the previous album, most of the CD comprises instrumental tracks with a few vocal tracks ("Miles To Go" & "Heading Home"). The opening track "Illegal Aliens" kicks in with some hard driving electric guitar then everything else joins in the fun…a thumping and weaving bass line, timely drums, and the a Uriah Heep (Ken Hensley) like organ makes the entire scope of the composition very tasteful and complete. "Mystic Jam" is one of my favorites, it has a Middle Eastern flavor and influence, which always seems to work so well when employed for a jazz fusion composition. "Feast of The Warrior" takes all of those elements to another level; it is a real nice number and very eclectic. Smooth jazz finds a home in this song yet it does not take up permanent residence, this band is much too talented to allow a song to stay on one course. Typically, they take it into many different directions, combining jazz, rock, and progressive superbly. "Off To Arizona" has a definitive western Latino atmosphere, which is perfect for the different cultures and climate for that area. The track allows you to envision a beautiful picturesque butte or the Painted Desert in your mind's eye. If you have ever been there, you will know exactly where I am coming from. This album is all about helping you to envision what they are trying to project through their music and once again, its mission accomplished magnificently.

The title of the album really puts this music into proper perspective; literally, Rare Blend makes many Stops Along The Way on this musical train during the course of this recording. This is a very satisfying listen for ears relentlessly searching for a nice change and something to keep your interest from start to finish. Again, the musicianship is beyond reproach, most notably Vic Samalot's fretwork, which seems to engage everyone else in the band effectively. Bobbi Holt impressed me once again as a vocalist that could do a lot more if she had the opportunity to stretch out a bit, but that is not what this band is about, it's a little bit of this and that to keep things fresh and diverse at all times.

This band knew exactly what the words Rare Blend meant for them before their adventure started. It is obvious to me that before they set out on such a fantastic musical discovery that the intention was to present something inviting and thought provoking, a sound that would arouse your curiosity and sense of adventure while making your ears stand up and take notice. They did it for me again, what a great album this is.

Track Listing
01. Illegal Aliens
02. Wuhan Incident
03. Mystic Jam
04. Cole Train
05. Feast Of The Warrior Kings
06. Splat!07. Miles To Go
08. Intermission
09. Off To Arizona
10. Grand Central Station
11. Dinner At Koko's
12. Destiny's Eyes
13. Heading Home

Added: March 30th 2006
Reviewer: Keith Hannaleck
Related Link: Rare Blend Website
Hits: 2125
Language: english

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