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Bassist David Phillips and his band, “Freedance” turn in a mighty fine showing on this new “NAXOS” release! Basically, the band gets out of the gate in a flurry on the opener, “Eastern Peace” as they surge onward with ominous yet at times breezy themes while Phillips and drummer Tony Moreno provide the monstrous underpinnings. Here, electric guitarist Rez Abbasi illuminates the proceedings with commanding presence due to his signature style attack which features a touch of electronic distortion, a subliminal C&W style – twang and angular, soul searching lines. On this piece, saxophonist John O’ Gallagher introduces himself with poise and ferocity as the band coalesces with force and determination amid highly charged unison choruses.
Throughout, the band’s heavy handed approach might suggest warriors ready for battle; however, they frequently touch upon ethereal or mystical themes as they often counterbalance the overall sense of the dynamic. - Phillips booming acoustic bass is captured in magnificent fashion on pieces such as the classic, “You and the Night and the Music” and Phillips’ “Pops and Poppies” which compliments his deft, articulate plucking and generally resonant and altogether cavernous sound.
The band drives home some funk-rock riffs on the peppery “Soul Food” as Abbasi accelerates the tempo and puts matters into overdrive with blistering leads yet O’ Gallagher and Abbasi proceed to alter the tone and pulse of this piece with jazzy motifs and Far East style modalities. No doubt, there’s a whole lot going on here as burgeoning, impacting rhythms and fiery performances from the lead soloists wreak – disciplined - havoc yet this recipe for success also includes gobs of melody, exciting unison choruses and sharp arrangements. Recommended!
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.