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Santa Cruz: Cruzing

Mark F. Turner By

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After a 25-year hiatus, one of Europe's premier fusion bands, Santa Cruz, reunited at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 2005 and demonstrated to the enthusiastic crowd that its music was still as energetic as ever. The Danish quartet, led by drummer Alex Riel, delivered the retro sounds of '70s and '80s fusion, comprised of equal parts harmony, arrangements and heady improvisation.

At a concise 41 minutes, the recording still packs a huge punch, with stimulating performances and well-developed selections that showcase the bandmembers' life-giving connections with each other and the crowd. The concert gets underway with "Musik, a lively piece with sinewy sax/guitar lines and a gnarly rock solo by guitarist Poul Halberg. The recording captures the essence of the live experience with memorable moments like Frans Bak's ethereal keyboarding "Intro leading into the Middle Eastern-inspired "Månemaleri. Others, including Alex Riel's lively drum solo on "Daylight and Hans Ulrik's dreamy sax on the tranquil "Warm, are all part of the experience.

The recording's acoustics set the listener on the front row of the concert to audibly take part in the crowd's applause on the rocking good time sound of "Nicole and the soulfully rustic ballad "Slipping Away, with ardent solos from Ulrik and bassist Bo Stief. Santa Cruz gives listeners a bounty of good music on this memorable reunion. Encore!

Track Listing: Musik; Intro; M

Personnel: Hans Ulrik: saxophones; Frans Bak: keyboards; Poul Halberg: guitars; Bo Stief: bass; Alex Riel: drums.

Title: Cruzing | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Cowbell Music


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