136

Tim Thompson: Faces

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Tim Thompson: Faces 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.


Title: Faces | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Hidden Giant Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
  • Faces by Mark Sabbatini
Read more articles
Faces
Hidden Giant Music
2004
buy

More Articles

Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Resonance CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Black Focus CD/LP/Track Review Black Focus
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Fierce Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Fierce Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "Voices in the Void" CD/LP/Track Review Voices in the Void
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "The Django Experiment I & II" CD/LP/Track Review The Django Experiment I & II
by Peter Jurew
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Cross My Palm With Silver" CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Windows" CD/LP/Track Review Windows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 12, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!