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Mainieri, Mike: Crescent

Mike Mainieri should be no stranger to jazz and fusion fans alike, as the vibraphone legend not only played with Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Billy Holiday, and Wes Montgomery, but also fronted his groundbreaking jazz-fusion act Steps Head in the late 70's and into the 80's. That band was a virtual breeding ground of stellar jazz players, many of whom went off to major success on their own, such as Mike Stern, Mitch Forman, Don Grolnick, Steve Gadd, Peter Erskine, Richard Bona, and countless others. Here on Crescent, Mainieri fronts a trio with sax player Charlie Mariano and bassist Dieter Ilg, for 2 CDs of soothing meditative jazz and pop.

Mariano is pretty much a legend in his own right, and it's all the more poignant that Crescent happened to be the last thing he recorded before passing away in late 2009. Not only is Crescent a tribute to John Coltrane (both the songs he wrote as well as the jazz standards he played), but in the end it's also a tribute now to the late Charlie Mariano. There's many classics covered here, and though Mariano's smokey sax lines aren't as formidable as Coltrane's, his melodic sense comes across full swing on such gems as "Bye Bye Blackbird", "Giant Steps", and the swinging "Naima". It's when he trades off with Mainieri's glistening vibes that things work really well here, as you can hear on the soaring "Wise One", or the charming grace of "Mr. Syms".

There's a lot of material to soak in on Crescent, and my one criticism is that, while the performances are top notch, nothing you'll hear on this CD is going to make you forget about the greatness of the Coltrane originals. Mainieri's vibraphone layerings also at times give an almost 'muzaky' tone, and though many of these songs are ballads and on the mellow side, it might have helped if he kicked it up a notch here. Those minor quibbles aside, this is a relaxing and quite pleasant collection of smooth jazz songs that will not only bring back memories of the great John Coltrane, but also remind us of just how good Charlie Mariano has been as well.

Track Listing
CD 1
1. Mr. Syms
2. Like Someone In Love
3. I Love You
4. Wise One
5. Nancy
6. Ole
7. Naima
CD 2
1. Crescent
2. Bye Bye Blackbird
3. Miles' Mode
4. What's New
5. Giant Steps
6. Body and Soul
7. America

Added: July 26th 2010
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1829
Language: english

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