136

Tim Thompson: Faces

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
For some bizarre reason this album inspires memories of Thailand, where a used paperback novel and a take-out meal for ten cost the same: the value is strongly influenced by the setting.



Nashville guitarist Tim Thompson's Faces is a smooth jazz collection of originals and standards offering substance while still appealing to the Russ Freeman/Lee Ritenour crowd. Compared to most such performers, Thompson dwells in above-average territory.



But an iPod programming accident exposed Faces' relative worth when a seemingly bold composition jolted me from the rather passive mood this album created. A moment later I realized it was from Chick Corea's Tones For Joan's Bones ; I had placed the title track on my playlist for comparison purposes since it's one of the standards on Thompson's album, and an extra song slipped in somehow.



So think of Faces as sort of Jazz Pad Thai—exotic at a mall food court, ordinary compared to fish steamed in banana leaves on the streets of Bangkok. But there's no shame in comfort food, nor finding Thompson's interpretation of "Naima," with its melodic phrasing and mellow beat more soothing than the acquired taste of John Coltrane's original.



Thompson is capable of complexity, plucking lickety-split bop twists impressively on Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee." But the ordinary pop beat is a terrible shame that must be tuned out to appreciate his playing. A more varied and interactive contribution from bassist Dow Tomlin and drummers Mel Watts and Brian Fullen would make it a first-rate modernistic interpretation.



Similar limitations hamper much of the album, as Thompson dominates at the expense of the others. Their few moments of prominence are decent, if not special. Keyboardist Mike Rojas plays a handful of rapid runs that try emulating Corea's colorful clashes in tone and pacing on "Joan's Bones," for instance, but doesn't reach the level the latter's acoustic piano brings to the original.



Everything comes together best on "A Night In Tunisia," where an upbeat Latin fusion pace gives Rojas and the drummers a canvas where being just outside the melodic lines results in legitimate flair. The guitarist is more impressive as a player than composer, with originals such as the title track and "Song For Terri" doing little to stand out in the smooth arena. It's worth noting, however, this is the first of his five albums focusing on jazz—the others include two Christmas collections, a solo guitar project, and one of him singing original works.



Ultimately Faces is a consistent fifty minutes that never feels like an insult to the intelligence, but falls short of the lingering impact clearly within Thompson's reach. His ability to interpret classics for the modern masses gives him a strong base, and if he can loosen his arrangements and delegate more to others, more ventures by him into jazz are worth anticipating.

Track Listing: Tones For Joan's Bones; Naima; Song For Terri; Faces; A Night In Tunisia; Myles Vincent; Donna Lee; Stella By Starlight; For Roman

Personnel: Tim Thompson, guitar; Dow Tomlin, bass; Mike Rojas, keyboards; Jonathan Joyner, keyboards (Myles Vincent); Mel Watts, drums and percussion; Brian Fullen, drums and percussion

Year Released: 2004 | Style: Contemporary/Smooth


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Fusion Machine" CD/LP/Track Review Fusion Machine
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Americana" CD/LP/Track Review Americana
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Regards To You II" CD/LP/Track Review Regards To You II
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Beatbox Sax" CD/LP/Track Review Beatbox Sax
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "Jazz Marathon 2" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Marathon 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 20, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!