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Using original compositions that serve as mainstream jazz anthems, drummer Mike Clark has created a program around his taste for rhythmic drive and small band creativity. Fusion, funk and ballads sit under the umbrella of Clark’s design; however, they’re tempered with tradition. Fluid trumpet and tenor saxophone solos grace "The Viper" accompanied by just the acoustic bass and drums. It’s a lovely setting. And yet, as the title suggests, this one is full of intrigue. The band isn’t as effective on "Waiting Around." This ballad with Clark’s swirling brushes stalls in places, as does "Stuff." The ensemble seems to prefer fast-paced numbers, which incorporate the driving force of the drummer.
High points include "Attack of the 40 ft. Woman" with its swinging "Harlem Nocturne" mood; a swinging "Bacon Phat" flavored with tradition and raw blues hues; "The Famous Door" driving forcefully with a modified Bo Diddley beat; "59th Street Station," which features Bennie Maupin ambling unhurriedly on the subterranean bass clarinet; and "Aristede." This key selection gets its colors from Tim Ouimette’s wind driver. As you’d expect, it fills the role of an electronic keyboard. Ted Trimble’s acoustic bass sets the tone of the piece with an outstanding introduction, then Maupin appears with a creative and highly effective soprano saxophone improvisation. The piece includes an extended drum solo that runs for nearly 3 minutes. What a surprise!
Highly recommended, this album comes by way of a drummer who began his professional career at the age of four, playing "Sweet Georgia Brown" at his father’s insistence in a New Orleans club. Not that many years ago, Clark recorded several albums with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters. Today, he’s offering actual proof that this timeless music is here to stay.
Track Listing: Stingers; The Grinder; Aristide; The Viper; Waiting Around; Stuff; Attack of the 40ft Woman; Cops & Robbers; 59th Street Station; Bacon Phat; The Famous Door.
Personnel: Mike Clark- drums; Ted Trimble- acoustic bass, electric bass; Charlie Hunter- guitar; Tim Ouimette- trumpet, wind driver; Bennie Maupin- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Jed Levy- tenor saxophone; Kevin Burrell- congas on "The Grinder."
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.