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Delightful is perhaps the best term to describe Arthur Lipner's cover of the pop classic "Love the One You're With." That's the worst I can say about his new CD, Modern Vibe.
From the first note, the opening song grabs your listener's attention. After two no-frills verses, Lipner gets into the groove with an energetic solo. He follows that with the laid-back "Street Vibe," a smoother yet funkier track which is one of five original songs on the album. Lipner plays the vibes and the marimba, a skillful combination that prompts comparisons to Dave Samuels, a longtime member of Spyro Gyra. Another longtime member of that group, drummer Joel Rosenblatt, brings his exceptional talents to this piece as well.
On "Treasure Chest," a song with a hint of Latin seasoning, Lipner's ensemble is complemented by Gary Schreiner on harmonica. Lipner then sparkles on the high-speed rendering of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," supplemented by Bill Bickford's guitar solo that brings to mind the likes of George Benson and Wes Montgomery. Schreiner adds another solo, capped by Lipner's display of mallet expertise. David Finck's bass line sets the pace for another Lipner original, "Mood Vibe," which features funky electric guitar play by Jerome Harris.
The ensemble goes bossa nova with Brazilian singer/songwriter Djavan's "Flor de Lis," a track that sets the mood for dancing the samba, or relaxing on the beach with a tropical drink while visions of floss bikinis dance in your head. In addition to vibes and marimba, Lipner contributes percussion and a synth solo.
On an album that's chock full of excellent tunes, it's difficult to say which is the best. However, when listening to "Slo Burn 68," it's difficult not to give it the nod. With Rosenblatt, Harris and Finck, and featuring Nick Bariluk on acoustic piano, this song is straight out of the jazz player's handbook for time shifting. The lead instruments tend to stay in 4/4, but the rhythm section maintains a 6/8 beat, or 3/4, depending on where you stress the count. Either way, it's a Lipner masterpiece.
More funk is on tap as Lipner and company offer a moody cover of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine." Harris treats us to a wailing blues guitar solo, but it's Bariluk's screaming organ riff that gives this track pizzazz.
Kiko Freitas, also featured on "Flor de Lis," takes over the drumming on "Montahna Russa," composed by Cliff Korman and guitarist Nelson Faria, who plays the nylon-string guitar. With David Feldman on keys and Ney Conceicao on bass, this is another track that has that "North American jazz meets Brazil" feel. The last of Lipner's originals also serves as the album's closer, the high-energy "Blue Tango," a dazzling showcase of Lipner's multiple skills, as well as supplementary work by Harris, Bariluk, Rosenblatt, Finck and percussionist Mauro Refosco. It's the perfect finishing touchsatisfying, yet making you want more.
Track Listing: Love the One You're With, Street Vibe, Treasure Chest,
Let's Stay Together, Mood Vibe, Flor de Lis, Slo Burn
68, Ain't No Sunshine, Montanha Russa, Blue Tango
Personnel: Arthuer Lipner, vibes, marimba, additional keys,
pandeiro, percussion, synthesizer; Bill Bickford and
Jerome Harris, electric guitar; Nelson Faria,
nylon-string guitar on "Flor de Lis" and "Montanha
Russa"; Nick Bariluk, keys, organ and acoustic piano;
David Feldman, keys on "Flor de Lis" and "Montanha
Russa"; Tom Barney, David Finck and Ney Conceicao,
electric bass; Tommy Igoe, Joel Rosenblatt and Kiko
Freitas, drums; Gary Schreiner, harmonica; Ze Luis
Oliveira, caxixi, seeds on "Let's Stay Together";
Mauro Refosco, agogo bells, snare drum and zabumba on