Kaveh Rastegar's name might not register with many people, but a significant number of music fans from different camps have likely heard his low-end thrumming on bass and experienced the power of his work. The anchoring element for artists as dissimilar as John Legend and Beck, the creative weight ballasting the music of the pioneering post-fusion collective Kneebody, and a songwriter with serious credibility and a résumé that includes collaborations with everybody from Bruno Mars to Meshell Ndegeocello to Cee Lo Green, Rastegar has his left an indelible mark on the music of our time. He's covered tremendous ground in recent years, carving out a path that's not defined by genre lines, and he's come to be known as a reliable force capable of stabilizing and enhancing a broad array of scenarios.
Light Of LoveRastegar's leader debutis both exactly what you'd expect and a complete departure from any norm. It's not a jazz date, it's not a rock or pop record, it's not a soul jam, and it's not a production piece. It's actually the overlap in the Venn diagram connecting all of those areas (and many others). In short, it's a manifestation of Rastegar's very nature as a binding force.
With a diverse cast of vocal and instrumental individualists in play, Rastegar is able to give each track a completely separate identity while still lacing all of his material together. Opening with the harmonically-tethered rock of "Bad Ideas," Rastegar lets his voice and mind shine. Then he shifts the light away from himself, turning attention toward his friends and colleagues. vocalist Gaby Moreno fronts the quietly stirring "Cuento Ilogico," drummer Chris Dave adds some dried drum flair to a pair of instrumental groove trips, Mike Viola injects a radio-friendly pop element to the mix with his vocals on the all-too-brief "Roll Call," and David Garza rides atop the slick and hypnotic snap of the title track. Through it all, Rastegar is simultaneously raising it all up and holding everything down.
The second half of the album, no less impressive in scope and diversity, can be summed up by a highlight reel that finds AMES aiming for empyrean realms in her vocal work on "Accidents Waiting To Happen," trumpeter Nicholas Payton riffing on the (occasionally) stutter-stepped funk of "Long March," Dawn Richard releasing an intoxicating perfume of lyrics on the slow and sizzling "Lavender," and Becca Stevens beckoning with her relatively naked singing. If you want to hear Rastegar in a specific setting, look back to the first paragraph here. But if you want to see what he's capable of when left to his own devices, Light Of Love is the place to go.
Bad Ideas; Cuento Ilogico; Cat Woman; Roll Call; Tom Tom; Light of Love; As Long As You Love Me; Accidents Waiting to Happen; Long March; Lavender; A Little Too Late; Luz Do Sol.