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Rule of thumb: the amount of unadulterated Jazz substance in a CD is inversely proportional to the amount of reverb used to accentuate reeds, brass and/or rhythm. On Karla’s Fire, saxophonist Tim Eyermann sounds like he’s playing in an empty airplane hangar (empty except for his accompanists, that is). With a few exceptions, this is music for “smooth Jazz” aficionados, copiously laden with syrup but containing little nourishment for the soul. Those exceptions are “Secret Love,” on which Eyermann (alto), Hughes, Williams and Killgo choose to cook and whip up quite a tasty entrée; Eyermann’s Cannonball–inspired treatment of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on My Mind,” which has its moments; and Luis Bonfa’s “Samba de Orpheo,” with sharp choruses by Eyermann on flute and guest guitarist Larry Coryell (neither fares as well on a schmaltzy rendition of “Manha de Carnival”). No guitarist is listed on “My Funky (pardon, Funny) Valentine,” but there is a guitar solo, which may or may not be Coryell. It could be “programmed,” as so many things are these days; that is certainly the case on Kenny Loggins’ “Now and Then,” on which soft–voiced Mary Ann Redmond makes her only appearance, accompanied by a digitally fabricated string section. There’s a market for this music, and we hope that Eyermann and his colleagues are successful in reaching it.
Track listing: Just a Thought; Karla’s Fire; Now and Then; My Funny Valentine; Secret Love; Greencastle; Samba de Orpheo*; Europa; Georgia on My Mind; Weekend Update; Manha de Carnival* (56:18).
Tim Eyermann, soprano, alto, tenor saxophones, flute; Rick Lillard, trombone; Michael Sutcher, John Ozment, Fred Hughes, keyboards; Larry Coryell, guitar*; Bill Foster, Wade Matthews, Tom Williams, bass; Rod Gross, Keith Killgo, drums; Gali Sanchez, percussion; Mary Ann Redmond, vocal (