Former Jefferson Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico is one of the most successful and reliable of the crop of rock musicians who have recently switched genres into contemporary jazz. His fourth CD, Once in a Blue Universe continues to broaden his jazz horizons while providing some very satisfying and distinctive music. Fans of Craig's first two albums ( Acoustic Planet and Acoustic Highway ) will find the same improvisational and eclectic guitar style prevalent on those albums. Those who welcomed Craig's turn toward more complex compositions and arrangements on A Thousand Pictures will enjoy the additional moods and extended saxophone presence.
The first few notes of the first song ("Midnight Swim") set the beat with a funky bass line and readily identifies the artist with Craig's signature style on acoustic guitar. Dave Koz assists with a strong and funky sax line for an all-around finger-snapping tune.
Craig's companion on the Guitars, Saxophones and More Tour, Richard Elliot, makes a strong guest appearance with his distinctive tenor saxophone on "Dreamcatcher," one of the first cuts to receive radio play. Another GS&M tour member, Peter White makes an appearance on "Lights Out San Francisco"; the guitar interplay between Craig and Peter makes this mellow track a winner.
Other notable cuts include the romantic soft-tempo title song, subtitled "Kimberly's Eyes" featuring John Klemmer and Third Force, "Oceans Apart" and a mellow cover of pop tune "Holding Back the Years," one of the only non-original compositions on the disc. Those who saw Craig and Douglas Spotted Eagle together at the Catalina Island Jazz Festival in 1996 will recognize the diverse percussion and arrangement from Spotted Eagle on the end-cut "Indian Spring. "
Produced by long-time keyboardist and producer Ozzie Ahlers, Once in a Blue Universe is a solid addition to any contemporary jazz or guitar collection, filled with tunes you will be humming days later. Highly recommended.
Tracks:Midnight Swim, Holding Back the Years, Dreamcatcher, Blue Universe (Kimberly's Eyes), Trade Winds, Light Out San Francisco, Dipsea Trail, Oceans Apart, Feelin' Alright, Indian Spring.
Musicians:Guitar-Craig Chaquico; Spanish Guitar-Peter White; Keyboards-Ozzie Ahlers, William Aura; Saxophone-Richard Elliot, John Klemmer, Dave Koz, Kevin Paladini; Drums & Percussion-Lenny Castro, Alain Eskinasi, Carlos Vega, G.G. Gonaway, Wade Olson, Douglas Spotted Eagle; Bass Guitar-Larry Kimpel, Jim Reitzel; Piano-Gregg Karukas