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Geoff Vidal: She Likes That (2011)

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Geoff Vidal: She Likes That How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

It's not often that a debut CD by a young artist brims with great playing, complex, soulful compositions, and exceptional group chemistry. But that's exactly what happens on Geoff Vidal 's She Likes That. Vidal is a young tenor saxophonist from New Orleans who—much like fellow Big Easy native Rob Wagner
Rob Wagner
Rob Wagner

saxophone
—wields a big, bluesy "bull tenor" in the mold of Tony Malaby
Tony Malaby
Tony Malaby

sax, tenor
, Clifford Jordan
Clifford Jordan
Clifford Jordan
1931 - 1993
saxophone
and Booker Ervin
Booker Ervin
Booker Ervin
1930 - 1970
sax, tenor
. On She Likes That, Vidal is backed by highly talented young players who imbue his excellent original compositions with fire and spontaneity.

Most noteworthy is the dynamic, creative drumming of Makaya McCraven
Makaya McCraven
Makaya McCraven
b.1983
drums
. A busy, bold player, McCraven—whose father, Steven McCraven, is a drummer who's played with Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
1923 - 2011
sax, tenor
, Arthur Blythe
Arthur Blythe
Arthur Blythe
b.1940
sax, alto
, and has led a few sessions of his own—has a crackling fresh, distinctive approach to the kit. Frequently, he refers to funky New Orleans second-line rhythms, as on the CD's opening track, "Darjeeling." Joe Hundertmark's finger-style guitar sound is a bit reminiscent of Kevin Eubanks
Kevin Eubanks
Kevin Eubanks
b.1957
guitar
. Like McCraven, Hundertmark is a no- holds-barred soloist whose non-jazz influences peek through Vidal's jazz-based music in an appealing way. This is most evident on the closing title track, a hard-rocking foray that nods both towards early '70s fusion (à la Mahavishnu Orchestra
Mahavishnu Orchestra
Mahavishnu Orchestra
b.1971
band/orchestra
) and the so-called post-rock of contemporary bands such as Tortoise.

That said, the remainder of She Likes That is energetic post-bop with a free-bop edge, rather like the Dave Holland
Dave Holland
Dave Holland
b.1946
bass
Quartet circa Extensions (ECM, 1990). The original compositions, written by Vidal and Hundertmark, are smart and multi-themed with lots of interesting rhythmic and harmonic twists and turns. Several tunes, notably "Darjeeling" and "O-Zoning," mate relatively simple, hummable opening melodies to lengthy, chops-busting second themes that grow organically out of the first. It's a fascinating ploy, and Vidal— much to his credit—doesn't overuse it.

Both Vidal and Hundertmark indulge their lyrical side on a couple of tunes. Vidal's "Time Apart," the CD's sole ballad, has a dark, pensive mood, while Hundertmark's "Lanusa" is a shimmering moderate tempo piece with an irresistible melody that lingers long after the tune is over.

While Vidal and his band offer excellent playing and distinctive compositions throughout, She Likes That is one of those recordings that has that certain je ne sais quoi that keeps it in the changer, or on the iPod playlist, indefinitely. The entire CD literally explodes with creative energy and the sheer excitement and joy of music-making. More please!

Track Listing: Darjeeling; Different Planes; O-Zoning; Time Apart; Freediver; Lanusa; She Likes That.

Personnel: Geoff Vidal: tenor saxophone; Tatum Greenblatt: trumpet, flugelhorn; Joe Hundertmark: electric guitar; Michael O'Brien: bass; Makaya McCraven: drums.

Record Label: Art and Music Factory


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