How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Grand Tour Alignment (Chartmaker)
Here’s yet another album of acoustic and synthesized dross masquerading as Jazz. Solar Wind is a splendid title for the core group (Sean Mason, Eric Robson) as this sounds at the outset like the soundtrack for a Star Wars sequel before settling into a threadbare groove aimed straight at the heart of “smooth Jazz” radio. Mason wrote eight of the nine pieces, Robson the other, and except for “Grand Tour Alignment” (the pseudo–soundtrack) they are instantly forgettable and nearly interchangeable. As they used to say on Dragnet, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent (or in this case, to mask the uncanny resemblances). Eric Marienthal, well known to subscribers to the various record clubs, comes on board for two numbers, “Paradise” (on alto) and “Summer Day” (soprano), but his presence makes no appreciable difference. The music still sounds counterfeit and homogenized. As I’m hardly an expert in this area, it could be a worthy prototype of whatever it is that Solar Wind is trying to accomplish (I’m assuming there’s a game plan, as everyone has one). It may, for example, be given far more air–play than the latest recordings by Sonny Rollins, Nicholas Payton or Kenny Barron (all of whom placed first in this year’s Down Beat critics’ poll), and may sell more copies than all of them combined. I wouldn’t be surprised. But I won’t be buying; and should add that this is one case in which an abbreviated playing time (37:44) is an asset.
Track listing: Grand Tour Alignment; Paradise; Pacific Strut; Summer Day; Sun Coast; Tropical Wave; No Look Pass; Gliding Through Passageways; Light Speed (37:44).
Sean Mason, keyboards, bass guitars, synth percussion, drum programming; Marc Hugenberger, keyboards; Eric Robson, acoustic and electric guitars; Frank Gambale, electric guitars; Eric Marienthal, alto, soprano sax; Gary Novak, drums; Tony Moore, drum programming.
Contact: Chartmaker Jazz, 6255 Sunset Blvd., Suite 1024, Hollywood, CA 90028 (web site, www.chartmakermusic.com).