Guitarist Wayne Brasel's music reflects the West Coast lifestyleor at least the stereotype that most people have of sunny California living. His clear, cleanly articulated guitar lines speak of gentle evenings by the water, and he has assembled a great cast of musicians to help shape these languorous compositions. Brasel and Peter Erskine
have been acquainted since the drummer's days with Stan Kenton
, and they've periodically worked together in different settings in the ensuing years. Through Erskine, Brasel was able to bring pianist Alan Pasqua
aboard, and both men ably assist Brasel in creating his sleepy, yet purposeful, songs. Bassist Tom Warrington rounds out the core group, while percussionist Satnam Ramgotra helps to fill out the sound, adding some finishing touches to the smooth-leaning album closer, "The Hermit."
The music on If You Would Dance
speaks more about mood than melody, and a sense of relaxed concentrationas odd as that might soundpermeates these performances. While none of this music is extremely gripping, the pleasant nature of these songs and the musicianship makes for an enjoyable ride. The title track and "Aberdeen," which features a terrific bass solo from Warrington and a sunnier solo from Pasqua, are slow, waltz-like songs. Swing feels, as rare as they are here, help to give the music a bit more zest.
The gentle "The Oaks of Mamre," underscored by sensitive swing, features some enjoyable soloing from Brasel and Pasqua. As each of the soloists move further into their statements, Erskine becomes increasingly interactive. The appropriately titled "Celebration" is the standout track, and proves to be a bit more energy-charged than the other material. Warrington's bass sound has more spring in its step, and Brasel's tone, while still relaxed, seems more focused. Pasqua's solo is a real treat, while Erskine cuts loose with a stellar solo and the group interplay seems a bit more potent.
While Brasel focuses largely on electric guitar, his acoustic work pops up occasionally, providing a comforting sound on "Oleo De Mujer Con Sombrero." Pasqua builds a solo atop his own gentle beds of chords, as Erskine contributes super-sensitive brushwork. With few exceptions, If You Would Dance proves to be a collection of quiet, cloistered gentility.
Personnel: Wayne Brasel: guitars; Alan Pasqua: piano; Tom Warrington: bass; Peter Erskine: drums; Satnam Ramgotra: percussion.