By now, keyboardist Dan Siegel's name has become associated irrevocably with contemporary jazz. And he has become quite successful by consistently pursuing that style. While all of us now hear smooth jazz on the radio stations, often in competition with straight-ahead jazz stations or public radio jazz programming, it wasn't always so. As the fusion of the seventies gave way to uncertainty about the future of jazz in the early eighties (remember the "Jazz Is Dead" slogan?), Siegel emerged with other Pacific Northwest musicians to present approachable music. Combining the electronics of fusion with the public's instinctive understanding of straight-ahead music, Siegel was successful almost from the start. His The Hot Shot
premier album gained immediate acceptance from the general listeners.
Now, Along The Way: The Best Of Dan Siegel
creates a stream of recordings that signifies Siegel's movement from 1983 to the five new tracks recorded for this compilation CD.
Remarkably, Siegel has remained committed to the style he developed from his first album at the age of 25. Even though the configurations of his groups have changed, Siegel's arrangements and his sound have become immediately recognizable. Indeed, "Feelin' Happy" may have become virtually an anthem of the smooth jazz movement. Even though it was recorded in 1987, it still receives heavy airplay, as do Siegel's other tunes.
Backed by versatile musicians like Alex Acuna, Vinnie Colaiuta and Abe Laboriel, Siegel may have established a style that's marked by long tones and obvious beats. However, that doesn't mean the music minimizes musicianship. As contemporary jazz gained acceptance, in no small part due to Siegel's development of signature pieces, so did Siegel's discographynot to mention his influence on a movement dreaded by the jazz purists but enjoyed by CD buyers who hopefully move on to other avenues within jazz.
Siegel may confound listeners with "Pavane," which many may associate with Ravel's "Pavane pour une infante défunte" (performed upon the occasion of the death of a child). But Siegel's spirited version is justified, as he bases his version on the generic terms assigned to slow dance rhythms during the English Renaissance. The other tracks are uplifting as well, and Siegel continues to record within a genre that he helped develop.