How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The modern mainstream thrives on adventure. Whether it be dissonance, rhythmic complexity, ethnic re-creations or creative improvisation, the artist has a freedom that is rare in most forms of music. Jazz, however, lives and grows because of artists who dare to be different.
Dave Leslie takes it to the edge with his hands held firmly around the middle. Tradition is never far away, as his compositions travel through The Old West, the Roaring Twenties, The Old Country, and midtown Manhattan. Along with percussionist Dave Storrs, Leslie embarks on his journey through our collective imagination. Accordion evokes a tango. Hand drums combine the primitive with a contemporary scene. The band is capable of creating it all. The leader’s piano and keyboards swing the blues through “Gnarles,” named after one hip cat. “As Easy As” recalls Monk. “The Second Smartest of all Dogs” features a fiery guitar, while others place saxophones, trombone, piano or percussion in the spotlight. The band remains tight: matching one another in pitch and rhythm. Leslie’s combination of timbres instills excitement. Yet, there are a few places, such as the center section of “George’s Dilemma,” where the session stalls. Smooth jazz appears for a moment, and then disappears. Similarly, the title track relies on classical music for its little surprise. The album is loaded with surprises, and all of them positive. Together with his charged-up band, Dave Leslie is forging ahead in search of new directions for an old tradition.
Track Listing: Crackers 'n' Sherbet; As Easy As; Linger Awhile / Pass; Second Smartest of All Dogs; Gnarles; In the Now; Fall 92; George's Dilemma; The Brim; Seattle Plus; Broken Circle; Lucky Fella; Reunion.
Personnel: Dave Leslie- keyboards, accordion; Dave Storrs- drums, percussion; Tom Bergeron- alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Mike Curtis- clarinet, soprano saxophone; Page Hundemer- electric bass; Keller Coker- trombone; Steve Willis- guitar.