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TRACK LIST: 1. Down Under 3:59 2. Ghost Town 5:16 3. Groove Messenger 5:00 4. Cheesefrog Funk Prelude 0:58 5. Jamband Express 5:38 6. One Thing Leads to Another 4:53 7. Cheesefrog Funk 4:03 8. Rain Dance 3:07 9. Here We Go 0:37 10. Creatures of Conscience 6:38 11. Datz It 4:15 12. Herbie 5:36 13. Cheesefrog Funk Reprise 0:50 14. Heavy Things 3:29 15. Pause for Peace 1:58 Tracks 3 to 5, 7 to 9, 11 to 13, & 15: by JPM & DBS. All arrangements: by JPM & DBS. LINE-UP: Joseph Patrick Moore - basses Jeff Sipe - drums Johnnie Mosier - guitars El Buho - woodwinds Ziya Devletsah - violins Dan Matrazzo - keyboards Matthew Messer - vocals With: Several other musicians & singers Produced by L. Blewitt & Moore. Engineered by M. Malone.
Prolusion. "Volume 1" is the first brainchild of the band that the US composer and bassist Joseph Patrick MOORE has gathered under the banner of the Bass & Drum Society. Mr. Moore, however, also has a few solo albums to his credit: "Never-Never Land" (1996), "Soul Cloud" (1999), and "Alone Together" (2002), on which he appears as a multi-instrumentalist.
Synopsis. Archetypes: Jazz and Progressive Rock. Benefactor(s): uncertain. Creed: Classic Jazz-Fusion. Apart from their original compositions, the band presents several renditions of songs from the repertoire of Phish, The Fixx, Men At Work, The Specials, and Tony Williams. Although only the first of these names is normally associated with Progressive, and Joseph calls "Volume 1" a collection of Rock, Jazz, and World numbers, it's not the case to draw a hasty conclusion about the album. If I were in Joseph's shoes, I would have not presented the band's style(s) so simply, though, perhaps, all of that just displays the man's modesty. In any case, most of the tracks on the album are entities of progressive music. While describing the material, I won't point out the renditions of others' songs, as they are quite radically different from the originals and are much more diverse than those. In other words, they sound much in the vein of the band's original compositions, though in any case, the latter are better, as most of them are also marked with what we used to call a musical magic. Apart from the opener of the album, the other tracks feature either very few or no vocals at all. In short, almost all of the tracks are largely instrumental, which is just great, in my view. The only full-fledged song here is, at the same time, the only track that is immediately accessible. The music on Down Under (1) is a melodic Symphonic Art-Rock, but there are quite a few repetitions. The acoustic structures are predominant almost everywhere on the album, and classical guitar, violin, various woodwind, brass and percussion instruments are much more often at the helm of the arrangements than electric ones, save the bass, the parts of which set the pitch in most cases. Furthermore, a few compositions consist almost exclusively of acoustic textures. An amazingly original and impressive, mostly complex and beautiful Jazz-Fusion (rather, Symphonic Jazz-Fusion) is the predominant stylistics of the album and is presented on Ghost Town, Cheesefrog Funk Prelude, Jamband Express, One Thing Leads to Another, Cheesefrog Funk, Rain Dance, Cheesefrog Funk Reprise, and Heavy Things (2, 4 to 8, 13, & 14), though Rain Dance is also notable for its Arabic melodies. The music possesses some hypnotism and is immediately attractive and sounds strikingly fresh and original. Electric piano, bass, and brass are the central soloing instruments on Groove Messenger, Creatures of Conscience, and Datz It (3, 10, & 11). These are the representatives of Jazz Rock's swingy type with lots of syncopations, improvised solos, some of which are done in fourth and fifth, and the other typical jazz features. Herbie (12) is a dedication to the famous jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock. Featuring a constantly developing interplay between bass, acoustic guitar, and mallet percussion, this unique piece is Joseph's benefit performance. The 2-minute Pause for Peace (15), ending the album, features male, female and children's voices, effects, etc and no music as such. Of course, this track is certainly unnecessary here.
Conclusion. Generally, all of the compositions (not tracks!) are just remarkable. However, it is difficult to please traditional Prog-lovers and, simultaneously, those into a swingy Jazz Rock, which is not the same as Jazz-Fusion, just like the music of Weather Report is vastly different from that of Brand X, for instance. Hence, although the album is very close to the status of masterpiece, some distinct stylistic incoherence prevents me from rating it with all six stars I have up my 'sleeve'. Which, however, does not prevent me from concluding the review with the words: highly recommended! The reservation is positive: not intended for Neo fans. I understand the necessity of supporting good Neo bands, but how fresh and pleasant this album sounds in comparison to any by those whom I imply here!
VM: June 19, 2004
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