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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.
Track Listing: What Gives, From The Heart, Pavane, Come What May, Getting Close, Dee-ah, The Untraveled Path, Next To You, Along The Way, Late One Night, When You're Far Away, Feelin' Happy, Rhapsody, Northern Lights, Remember When, Orient Express, Another Time Another Place, Reflections
Personnel: Dan Siegel, keyboard, synthesizers, programming; Gary Meek, Gary Herbig, Mark Hollingsworth, Jeff Kashiwa, Brandon Fields, Jeff Homan, Tom Scott, sax; Rob Bacon, Allen Hinds, Michael Landau, Grant Geissman, Richard Smith, Carl Verheyen, John Morton, guitar; Alex Al, Abe Laboriel, Ed Alton, Jimmy Johnson, Keith Rouster, Patrick O'Hearn, Rob Thomas, bass; Dave Hooper, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bobby Columby, Gary Hobbs, Dave Miller, Moyes Lucas, Jr., drums; Smitty Smith, bass, drum programming; Luis Conte, Alex Acuna, Bruce Smith, percussion; Kenny Rankin, vocals
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.