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Smith/ Liebman/ Esen/ Jackson: Flashpoint

Steve Smith / Dave Libman / Aydin Esen / Anthony Jackson

Comfortably familiar and better-than competent Weather-Reportish jazz fusion stretches across ten tracks and about an hour of your time. The quartet is comprised of a convincingly confident rhythm section using six string bass -- no less than a 1996 prototype Fodera/Jackson Contrabass -- and an eclectic assortment of percussion that is woven into, over and under keyboard and sax. The mood seems uniformly upbeat and until we reach "Khanda West" which functions as the drummer's one-minute intro to the last track, we are gratefully spared solos in favor of very tight and fluid ensemble playing. These guys are obviously enjoying themselves and that spirit of shared experience is evident throughout.

The structures are well-wrought and without much in the way of excess. To some measure the pieces are largely interchangeable, the only exception being "Maid in the Mist". This piece stands outside the rest of the CD as a sort of deconstructed, gap-filled atmospheric. And here the group seems less confident, perhaps even uncertain about the idea, as their phrasing and inflections tend to creep into the too-familiar and seemingly self-conscious areas which beg the question "is this understated enough?" For you old prog-rock fans, just think of "The Dream" and "The Illusion" 'movements' from the long-regretted "Moonchild" of King Crimson's first album. Not nearly as clunky here, but still feeling feigned.

As for the rest, a well up to par fusion outing that should fit right in with a now long-standing tradition.

Track Listing
1) Flashpoint
2) Like John
3) Particles
4) Speak Without Words
5) The Gentle Warrior
6) Fabric of Reality
7) Yildiz
8) Maid in the Mist
9) Khanda West
10) Edge of Tomorrow

Added: November 21st 2006
Reviewer: Kerry Leimer
Related Link: Shrapnel/Tone Center Records
Hits: 2146
Language: english

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