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Foreign Exchange: Made in New York

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

When listeners hear the first tune on Made In New York, they might well think they popped in the wrong CD. "Recontre," a breezy Brazilian number, features flute and vocals. But there is no flute or vocal credit given on the CD sleeve. In the case of the vocals, the omission might stem from a well-justified fear of embarrassment. The singer is miles off pitch, his delivery corny. With this baffling opening track, Foreign Exchange is off to a bad start.

Thankfully, the remainder of the program is instrumental. But the next two tunes are also sambas, giving us three consecutive tracks with similar tempo and feel (although "Jump Start" does shift to swing for the solos). The boppish "Don’t Wake Me Up," which sounds like a cross between "Four" and "I’ll Remember April," is the first non-latin track. This is followed by the faster post-bop swing of "Futility," the modal groove of "Come This Way," and the clunky funk shuffle of "Nat’s Good Blues." All the band members play decently enough, the standouts being Rick Strobert on alto and John Ranney on piano. But the writing, split between guitarist Marc Levy and bassist Nat Valentine, is uniformly nondescript. Moreover, the recording quality is mighty low — it barely passes muster for a demo, let alone a finished album. These musicians owe it to themselves to return to the recording studio with the goal of getting better results.

Tracks: 1. Rencontre (pres de tois) 2. Jump Start 3. West of Africa 4. Don’t Wake Me Up 5. Futility 6. Come This Way 7. Nat’s Good Blues.

Personnel:

Rick Strobert, alto sax; John Ranney, piano; Marc Levy, guitars; Nat Valentine, bass; Sam Allen, drums; Andre Strobert, drums (7).

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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