Times 4: Eclipse (2010)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
For some artists, there's a sense of defiance to classification. The members of Times 4 represent that contingent with their third release, Eclipse.
Together for seven years, the group is comprised of two sets of San Francisco Bay-area friends who bring a mix of formal training and self teaching. Collectively, they count among their inspirations Grover Washington, Jr., Bootsy Collins and Prince.
The title song begins as an easygoing groove. The soprano sax leads the melody, piano and bass set the background tone, while rim shots highlight the three counts. After a tightly syncopated bridge, the piano solo enters softly, placid at first, but later intensifies. The sax then takes over, cranking up the energy and passion along the way. The bass is a little funkier on "Sine Language," as drummer Maurice Miles stands out a bit more, even though the other instruments remain out front.
John Coltrane's "Naima" is one of those rare songs that seems to sound good no matter how many times it's been covered. Times 4 puts a soulful groove into this timeless ballad, its keyboard solo a throwback to the way artists like Bob James and George Duke once played.
Eclipse presents an eclectic mix of stylesprimarily groove-based jazz, but with a few touches of funk, pop and improvisation sprinkled here and there. With previous recordings featuring songs that evolved from jam sessions, Eclipse represents the first time the group has focused on its own writing. The result is evidence of its maturation.
Track Listing: Eclipse; Sine Language; Crosswinds; Did I Say That Out Loud?; Naima; FSJ; What They Don't Tell You; Eighty One.
Personnel: Greg Sankovich: keys; Kevin Lofton: bass; Lincoln Adler: sax; Maurice Miles: drums.
Record Label: Groove Tonic Media