How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
”In this age of specialization, it is a challenge to be a specialist in diversification, yet this is where I find myself."
If Gabriel Mark Hasselbach’s music is jazz, then Gabriel’s Horns could sell as a franchise. It is targeted to listeners who play music to brighten their days. Hasselbach achieves this goal beautifully in just over 60 minutes. The sound is slickly dripped with an honesty that makes this music hard to place within jazz, or without it.
Accomplished and relaxing, Gabriel’s Horns has value added in production elements that serve to remove the edge from any given day. “Uber Smooth” uses raindrop keyboard effects reminiscent of the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm,” yet this song contrasts the spatial effect with highly competent horn playing. “Groovalicious Bumpus” shakes you out of sedation in a nine-minute groove that pumps with purposeful attitude. “When You Look for Love” would be smooth jazz radio’s obvious choice. “Soulmates” soothingly explores musical paths that were defined 20 years ago, but it does so well. The back half of the record re-establishes a rejuvenating catharsis of smooth music.
The title track is the best song on this record, a potpourri of winded aural environments with a lovely melody line spaced by layered keyboard textures.
Critics may deem this record to be too slick. If slick is bad, Hasselbach is guilty, but he unabashedly excels in the music’s mainstream.
Gabriel’s Horns is absolutely produced. The mix is clear yet textured, incorporating a world of sounds. The whole record holds 4/4 time, songs are strategically slow-faded, and the last two tracks are vocal reprisals of their former selves. This record is as much created as played.
Gabriel’s Horns packs musical ideas into a density that acknowledges commerce, but Gabriel Mark Hasselbach is easily talented enough to deviate from that norm in the future. If you think real jazz must be hard to grasp, you won’t like this record. Those of us who shun that debate are drawn to this music as a fan is to art.
Track Listing: Gabriel's Horns; Maui Rain; Uber Smooth; Turn On to Summer; Concubine; Groovalicious Bumpus;
When You Look For Love; Love System; Soulmates; View from the Shore; Chain of Fools; Turn On
to Summer (vocal remix); When You Look For Love (vocal remix).
Personnel: Gabriel Mark Hasselbach: (trumpet, flute, flugelhorn, alto flute, valve trombone, percussion, wind
jammer, EVI, vibes on tracks 4 and 12, guitar on track 6; x-file on track 8); Christine Duncan (vocals
on tracks 8, 11, 12 and 13); Jeff Holl (guitar on tracks 4, 7, 8, 11-13), Adam Rohrlick (guitar on track
5), Andreas Schuld (guitar on track 5), Charles Aarons (guitar on track 6); Jeff Holl (keyboards on
tracks 4, 7, 8, 11-13), Fulton Tashombe (keyboards on tracks 1, 3 and 9); Kat Hendrikse (keyboards
on tracks 2 and 10); Kat Hendikse (drums on tracks 2, 4, 7, 8, 12 and 13), Jose Ortiz Sr. (drums on
tracks 6 and11), Jordan Forseth (drums on track 10); Kerry Galloway (bass on track 5), Kat
Hendrikse (bass on tracks 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 12 and13); Fulton Tashombe (bass on tracks 1, 3 and 9);
Paco Blistorius (bass on track 6); Rock Hendricks (saxophone on track 6).