How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The Ric Molina Group's debut, @Dreamland, is a far cry from some of their leader's other gigs as a veteran New York guitarist who has performed in the pit orchestra for the Broadway hit Wicked or composed and recorded underscores for the iconic PBS children's television program The Electric Company. While the target audience is undoubtedly different here, Molina's acumen as a composer, bandleader, and performer is without question.
The old saying that "Iron sharpens iron" proves true with Molina's group of seasoned artists comprised of pristine production and bass work from the renowned sideman Fima Ephron
; as well as vigorous performances from pianist Ted Baker and drummer Dan Pugach.
The wide-ranging set opens with an infectious African flavored riff in "The Tree" that contains a slinky sax/guitar harmony, followed by the funk rock "ProChannel" as Molina does some heavy shredding. There's a balanced thread of substance and style in tracks such as "October" colored with water sound effects, cooled keyboards, and a cohesive flow of electric and acoustic textures.
The compositions are not only technically shrewd; they deliver feeling and imagination. In the picturesque "November" Molina's tremolo effects provide gentle ripples, whereas in the intriguing "Soul Secret" changing moods move from gritty organ runs to mellifluous piano runs provided by Ted Baker. The result is a fully realized and quite engaging release from a behind-the-scenes musician who's waiting to be exposed to a wider audience.
Track Listing: The Tree; ProChannel; Squintet; October; BlackFoot; November; Oregon;
The Tree (Reprise); UnBroken; Soul Secret.
Personnel: Ric Molina: guitars; Samir Zarif: saxophones; Ted Baker: piano &
keyboards; Fima Ephron: bass; Dan Pugach: drums.