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Close Your Eyes...and Listen is an appropriate title for the new recording by valve trombonist Mike Fahn; which showcases the majestic and beautiful sound of the peculiar instrument in the hands of a most capable musician. Fahn, who is primarily self-taught, has an impressive resume with luminaries such as Maynard Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Diana Krall. Fahn’s past credentials are intact but it’s his smooth sound and style on this new recording that leave the greatest impression of his skill.
What’s so special about a valve trombone? For a brief synopsis: instead of having a moving slide; a set of valves are located at the top of the U near the bell, which changes the key the trombone plays in. This advantage makes it easier to move quickly between notes that are far apart. With this in mind, Mike Fahn’s mastery of the unique instrument is quite evident throughout the recording.
The recording displays a wide range of music styles; from the contemplative opening selection “Without Changes”, with its ultra smooth sound, to the funky reggae tinged jam “Heart Forest”. Fahn’s solos are strong yet balanced with finesse, with an almost trumpet like feel in its speed and delivery. The talented set of musicians for this recording deliver equal amounts of skill and passion. A good example is the fiery selection “Close Your Eyes” which features tight horn arrangements and intense swinging solos from all musicians.
Fahn’s range and ease of deploying notes is attributed to the valve instrument and to his consummate musicianship. The most beautiful composition on the recording is the blissful “The Burren” which was written by Fahn and his spouse Mary Ann McSweeny who is a jazz bassist. The opening trombone solo overdub is superbly delivered, with a mood that takes the listener to a higher musical plane. Exquisite solos are introduced by the bass, guitar, and then by Fahn. The piece ends with the same atmospheric trombone solo by Fahn. The listener can close his or her eyes and enjoy the rich and unique sound of a musician and instrument that are truly in tune.
Track Listing: 1. Without Changes 2. Will Call 3. Survivor's Suite
4. Heart Forest 5.The Burren 6. Get Sparky 7. On Time
8. Close Your Eyes
Personnel: Charles Blenzig - Synthesizer, Piano;
Mike Fahn - Valve Trombone;
Jay Anderson - Acoustic Bass; Steve Cardenas - Guitar;
Tim Horner - Drums; Rick Margitza - Sax;
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.