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(53.25, 'Spice Rack')
TRACK LIST: 1. Funk Harbor 5.56 2. Stinger 5.56 3. Kinesis 5.56 4. In My Dream Again 3.54 5. Awe 5.27 6. Sons of Thunder 1.24 7. Hinesite 5.10 8. Inner Duality 6.56 9. Floating Dinosaurs 4.47 10. Leaf 7.54 LINEUP: David Hines – fretless and fretted basses; keyboards Steve Hunt – keyboards, piano, Hammond Pete McCann – el. guitar Steve Michaud – drums With: Sebastien Baverstam – cello (4) Olga Caceanova – violin (4) Bill Vint – saxophone (5)
Prolusion. Born into a musical family (his parents were two famous opera singers), David HINES is a musician and composer currently based in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). After a long career on the jazz/fusion scene, playing and recording with many high-profile artists, Hines released his debut solo album, "Nebula", in 2005, with guitarist Allan Holdsworth guesting on two tracks. Its follow-up, "Inner Duality", came out at the end of 2009. The album features the collaboration of some highly regarded jazz-fusion musicians, such as drummer Steve Michaud and keyboardist Steve Hunt (who also produced it), as well as Indian guitarist Prasanna (who is credited on the soundtrack of Academy Award-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire”).
Analysis. In spite of his impressive career in music, David Hines’ name is still relatively obscure even in jazz-rock/fusion circles. However, judging by his sophomore effort, “Inner Duality”, he would amply deserve more recognition, both as a composer and as a bassist. His approach to the genre may not be the most cutting-edge you may find on today’s music scene, but this album simply oozes class and style – two qualities that, in my book, are always more than welcome. “Inner Duality” is one of those albums (quite rare these days) that impress for the easy, effortless flow of the music, played with exquisite yet subtle skill, all the while avoiding the syndrome that all too often mars highly technical albums – that is, bludgeoning the listener over their head with one’s chops. Moreover, David Hines and his cohorts manage to inject genuine emotion in their playing – something that many bands of the same ilk often forget to do. The result of the chemistry between the four musicians are 10 tracks of restrained length (the longest, album closer Leaf, clocking in at just under 8 minutes), which avoid gratuitous pyrotechnics to concentrate rather on texture and atmosphere. This is vintage jazz-rock, harking back to the greats of the subgenre such as Mahavishnu Orchestra or Weather Report, though with a personal touch that prevents it from sounding derivative. In some ways, “Inner Duality” resembles those albums by progressive rock bands that pay homage to the initiators of the genre, though stamping their own individual imprint on the music. With such a consistently high level of quality, it is not easy to single out any tracks as particular standouts. Hines’ stunningly fluid, nimble bass lines greet the listener right from the start of sunny, uptempo opener Funk Harbor, providing a solid foundation for DuCann’s guitar excursions. The title-track, with its varied pacing and somber, intense mood, punctuated by crashing cymbals and enhanced by the Eastern nuances of Prasanna’s guitar, is probably the closest the album gets to ‘conventional’ progressive rock – a bravura piece that manages to avoid turning into a mere technical showcase. The aforementioned Leaf is instead a spacious, airy piece full of melody, with Hines’ performance oddly reminiscent of Jaco Pastorius on Joni Mitchell’s magnificent “Shadows and Light” live album – though it is the guitar-piano interplay that leaves the strongest impression. Hines’ fluid bass lines spar with the mournful, measured drone of the cello on In My Dreams Again, while a funky vibe surfaces in the sax-infused Awe. Though the album bears Hines’ name, his immaculate bass work is not the only star, having to share the limelight with Pete McCann’s scintillating, Allan Holdsworth-ian guitar and Steve Hunt’ lush keyboards; while drummer Steve Michaud, his skill a subtle and understated complement to Hines’ pneumatic bass, gets his own private showcase in the short, snappy Sons of Thunder. Though some of the tracks may bring Mahavishnu Orchestra to mind, Hines’ band sounds more linear and not as obviously intricate. In any case, this follow-up to Hines’ acclaimed debut, “Nebula”, will not disappoint fans of high-quality jazz-fusion, and will also introduce newcomers to an extremely talented musician who deserves far more renown than he has achieved so far.
Conclusion. While some jazz-fusion ‘experts’ may complain that “Inner Duality” sounds too much like a throwback to the glory days of the Seventies, the album is such an accomplished effort, as well as a rewarding listen, that I believe lovers of the genre would do themselves a disservice by passing it up. Music written and played with such taste and class should always be welcomed by discerning listeners.
RB=Raffaella Berry: September 25, 2010
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