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Various Artists: Casino Lights '99

Jim Santella By

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Jazz festivals have to provide an eclectic program. Who would show up to see eight bands with nearly identical credentials? How many would stay to the end? These days, jazz festivals bring in Latin jazz, smooth jazz, straight-ahead, contemporary, and blues. Every year.

Throughout the history of jazz, jam sessions have played a large part in the music's development. The jazz festival provides an opportunity for artists to meet and to interact. So, this setting lends itself to "sitting in" and perhaps recording with each other. Warner Bros. and the Montreux Jazz Festival joined forces to produce this two-disc collection. It was recorded before live audiences in Montreux at Miles Davis Hall and the larger Auditorium Stravinski. A DVD will be released later this year.

Smooth jazz representatives Rick Braun and Boney James join contemporary jazz trendsetter Bob James and modern mainstream innovators Kenny Garrett and Mark Turner for a two-hour program that puts you in the driver's seat. Feeling as though you're at the festival itself, you can't help noticing the audience reaction and how much the artists pick up from each other. Bob James excels in both acoustic and electronic arenas with "Mind Games" and "Four." Kirk Whalum brings back fond memories of Eddie Harris with his "Cold Duck Time." George Duke and Gabriela Anders stir up romantic interests on "Brazilian Love Affair," while the closing, ten-minute "Watermelon Man" brings everyone together for a romp.

As Duke says, "You can't pick up another record and hear me singing a song with Gabriela Anders. And there's nowhere else you're going to find me playing with Fourplay. These are the kinds of things that make this record and Montreux special."


Track Listing: Mind Games; Old Folks; Wayne?s Thing; Cold Duck Time; Soweto; Yesterday I Had the Blues; Always There; All Night Long; Notorious; Fire of Love; Brazilian Love Affair; Four; Westchester Lady; Watermelon Man.

Personnel: Kenny Garrett: alto saxophone; Mark Turner, Boney James, Kirk Whalum: tenor saxophone; Rick Braun: trumpet, flugelhorn; Larry Carlton, Jeff Johnson: guitar; Bob James, George Duke: piano, keyboards; James Genus: acoustic bass; Larry Kimpel, Mike Manson, Nathan East: electric bass; Harvey Mason, Ricardo Jordan, Billy Kilson: drums; Lenny Castro: percussion; Gabriela Anders, Kevin Mahogany: vocals.

Title: Casino Lights '99 | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Warner Bros.

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