L'Image (Mainieri/Bernhardt/Spinozza/Levin/Gadd): 2.0 (2010)

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L'Image (Mainieri/Bernhardt/Spinozza/Levin/Gadd): 2.0
It may seem odd to take nearly 40 years to release a debut, but in the case of L'Image it's definitely a case of never-too-late. A collective formed by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri
Mike Mainieri
Mike Mainieri
b.1938
vibraphone
in the early 1970s, L'Image generated considerable buzz for its live shows before, on the cusp of recording its first album, circumstances forced the group to dissolve. Mainieri reunited the group in 2008 for a Japanese tour and to record 2.0, and for fans of an era that delivered groove-happy groups like Stuff, and the funk-driven fusion of The Arista All Stars and its two Blue Montreux (Arista, 1978) LPs, it's a welcome opportunity to revisit a time when easy-on-the-ears jazz had yet to morph into dispensable smooth stuff.



Not that 2.0 is retro; the group sounds thoroughly in the new millennium, even as it revisits a couple of 1970s Mainieri compositions, in particular the eminently singable title track to Love Play (Arista, 1977), here combined with Mainieri's knotty but Latin-esque "Coming Home." Mainieri's tunes, which comprise half of 2.0's eight tracks, straddle the fence between easy-flowing accessibility and beneath-the-covers depth, in particular the tone row-driven "All in a Row," where Tony Levin

Tony Levin
Tony Levin
b.1940
bass, electric
's Chapman Stick gets a workout beyond the confines of the progressive rock arena in which he's been more often than not found since hooking up with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel in the late 1970s. 2.0 is, in fact, a rare opportunity to hear Levin return to jazz, his deep arco creating a robust foundation for Mainieri's "Reunion," an otherwise atmospheric track where David Spinozza's nylon-string guitar and Mainieri's vibes gracefully combine. Levin proves that just because an artist doesn't, it needn't mean they can't.



The same can be said for drummer Steve Gadd

Steve Gadd
Steve Gadd
b.1945
drums
, whose jazz cred is amply proven on seminal albums by Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
, Larry Carlton
Larry Carlton
Larry Carlton
b.1948
guitar
, and Joe Farrell
Joe Farrell
Joe Farrell
1937 - 1986
saxophone
, despite a career largely spent as a session and touring musician with pop/rock artists like Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
b.1945
guitar
, Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Paul Simon
b.1941
composer/conductor
and James Taylor Quartet
James Taylor Quartet
James Taylor Quartet

organ, Hammond B3
. Gadd's Stuff was a soulful and unassuming alternative to powerhouse fusion back in the day, and that same relaxed but unerring groove is all over 2.0, especially on keyboardist Warren Bernhardt
Warren Bernhardt
Warren Bernhardt
b.1938
piano
's opening "Praise," a lengthy, gospel-tinged tune featuring lively solos from Mainieri and Spinozza. And if Gadd's sense of swing was ever in doubt, there's Mainieri's "Gadd-Ddagit!," which features Bernhardt's strongest piano solo of the set, and Spinozza in flat-out Wes Montgomery
Wes Montgomery
Wes Montgomery
1925 - 1968
guitar
mode.



Spinozza and Bernhardt may well be 2.0's biggest treats, if only because they're so under-represented compared to the more visible careers of Levin, Gadd, and Mainieri. Spinozza, in particular, demonstrates a compositional acumen as strong as his playing on three tunes, notably the ambling but deceptively change-heavy "Doesn't She Know By Now?" and spare yet visceral blues, "Hidden Drive."



The best players check their egos at the door, and with L'Image completing a fall 2009 run at New York's Iridium and a live CD/DVD in the works, 2.0 is the long overdue introduction to a group with nothing to prove and everything to say.

Track Listing: Praise; Reunion; Gadd-Ddagit!; Doesn't She Know By Now?; The Brat; All in a Row; Hidden Drive; Love Play/Coming Home.

Personnel: Mike Mainieri: vibraphone; Warren Bernhardt: keyboards; David Spinozza: guitars; Tony Levin: basses, Chapman Stick; Steve Gadd: drums.

Record Label: NYC Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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