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(43:14, Gudari / Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. On a Mission 3:32 2. After All 4:33 3. Exactly 6:33 4. Portia 7:41 5. Siddhartha's Return 4:25 6. Rauleando 5:34 7. No Big Deal 5:12 8. Jimmy O'Donnell's Air 5:44 LINEUP: Adam Holzman – keyboards Kim Plainfield – drums Lincoln Goines – bass Beledo – guitars
Prolusion. The US-based quartet THE AVENGERS first came to prominence in 2010 with a successful tour in South America which included performances at several fairly prestigious jazz festivals. Just when this foursome started performing together their official internet presence does not reveal in detail, but as recording artists "On a Mission" from 2012 is their debut, originally released through Gudari Records and now distributed through Moonjune Records.
Analysis. Those with a deep interest and knowledge about jazz will most likely have taken an interest in this quartet merely by noting the names of the members. Guitarist and main composer Beledo may not be a household name in the US or Europe, but appears to be quite a well known artist in South America, but the rest of this band consist of members with an impressive resume as regarded from a jazz oriented point of view. Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Mingo Lewis are just some of many well-known artists these musicians have worked with in the past. The Avengers, presumably named after Stan Lee's comic book superhero creation, revolves around the talents of guitarist Beledo. Which is fairly logical, considering that he is the sole composer in the band at this stage. Which means that a certain affection for guitar playing is needed to be able to enjoy this production. A taste for instrumental jazz rock is needed too, as the stated mission of this band appears to be to explore this style of music thoroughly. Jazz rock is a description that covers a fair amount of ground, and in this case we're dealing with a melody-based variety of it. The bass guitar is fairly subservient, providing a basic dark-toned motif. There's some room for deliveries of a more expressive nature, but the greater majority of leeway for that in the rhythms department is left to drummer Plainfield. Elegant, sophisticated and busy drum patterns are a mainstay throughout, and he gets some space to really showcase his skills as an individual performer too, sections that are fairly close to meriting a description as a drum solo. Keyboardist Holzman and guitarist Beledo are the instrumentalists that carry this album though, and the latter the dominant of those. Alternating guitar and keyboard soloing is the bread and butter of these compositions, just about everything revolves around this. Mostly in slow to mid-paced constructions, focusing on smooth, elegant themes alternating between sparse arrangements highlighting the lead solo instrument at any given time and richer arrangements with one or more supplemental instrument textures either supporting the main solo instrument or with two or more combining into a harmony based theme. Elegant, melodic and accessible jazz rock of the kind that stays put within familiar territories. The focus is on excellence in performance and construction rather than trying to be innovators. Safe music if you like, material that will have its strongest appeal to those who enjoy performers aiming for perfection and subtle technical brilliance.
Conclusion. The Avengers’ debut album "On a Mission" showcases the abilities of the individual performers in a subtle manner without too many instances of individual flamboyance, the instances of the latter mainly limited to keyboardist Holzman and guitarist Beledo as the dominant providers of solo sequences on this instrumental production. The framework is one of melodic, elegant and smooth jazz rock, focusing on harmonies and distinct melodies. A fine example of how intriguing instrumental jazz rock can be when performed by high quality musicians, and an album that comes recommended to those who appreciate accessible jazz rock of that kind.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 5, 2013
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