Hard-hitting, well-executed fusion from a promising new voice. The arrival of CDs which feature one individual playing most of the instruments tends to give chills to reviewers. Fortunately, Al Garcia breaks the mold by crafting inventive, appealing arrangements that utilize all the sounds he has on hand to good effect. He is a member of the Latin jazz group Quarteto Nuevo, but that influence only rears its head on the fine closer. Since the bass guitar tends to be a primary voice, the initial impression is that Garcia is a bassist at heart with a strong appreciation of the guitar as well. Whatever the case, he weaves tasteful tendrils of fusion heat without kissing the sneakers of Jaco and Stanley. Initially the ping-ponging “Harmonic Sketch #1” might recall Jaco’s mind-boggling harmonic skills, but after a moment Garcia makes it clear that he’s not just aping the master.
With the exception of Bach’s short “Menuet”, delivered with respectful dignity on bass, Garcia wrote or co-wrote all the selections here. The enjoyable variety of the tunes testifies to big ears and a vivid imagination. The title track has all the expected elements of good fusion tight drums (courtesy of Dean Rohan’s MIDI set), hard accents, fleet technical execution, appropriate shifts in mood without sounding the least bit clichéd. Garcia proves himself perfectly capable of shred velocity, then moves on to judiciously use the Roland guitar synthesizer as a coloring tool; the keyboard sounds on “The Heart of the Matter”, vibes on “Communiqué”, and Methenyesque resonance of “On Cloud Ten” help round out the spirit of the tunes. On “The Unexpected Answer” the bass begins with almost a bagpipe-chord figure, then transforms into a cascade of prettiness. On “A Bird in the Hand” a Charlie Parker sample serves as a takeoff point for the bass, while “Natural Knowledge” has gorgeous fretless bass, crisp acoustic guitar, and bright Indian percussion. “Journey” is highly unusual in its long, flowing lines and tense undercurrent, an utterly fascinating performance. An excellent offering from an artist to watch.
Track Listing: Make It So; On Cloud Ten; The Unexpected Answer; The Heart of the
Matter; Menuet; Communique; Harmonic Sketch #1; Driving Through
Krystal Town; Natural Knowledge; Journey to the Center of the Earth; A
Bird in the Hand/Mosaic; Once Upon a Dream.
Personnel: Garcia, guitars, Roland GR-33 guitar synth, electric basses, percussion,
drum programming; Dean Rohan, MIDI drums (#1,2,4,8,11); Chris Garcia,
tabla, kanjira (#7).
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition. He was on the band bus the next day as Dorsey's alto sax and clarinet player, and never looked back. He played with great bandleaders such as Freddie Martin, Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, some before he was out of his teens (they had to lie about his age to get him into nightclubs). Many older musicians have told me he was the greatest alto sax player they ever worked with. He was equally great on clarinet and was clarinetist and harmony singer for cocktail jazz pioneers, the Ernie Felice Quartet.
He eventually left the road and settled down, and that's when I came in. By that time, he was, by day, vocal group session leader/player/arranger for classic jingles and commercial music produced in Dallas. At night, he played in society bands, jazz combos and elegant showrooms. Tuesdays were slow in the showrooms, so band members' families got in free, and my mom took me to see him backing such legends as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Steve and Eydie, and a very old Ella Fitzgerald. Between that, hearing his record collection, growing up around the legendary musicians and singers who were like aunts and uncles to me, and just listening to him practice around the house, filling the neighborhood with incredible jazz sax riffs, I couldn't help becoming that weird kid who was listening to Peggy Lee, Ella and Manhattan Transfer when my classmates were listening to rock, country and soul.
Even though he died before I ever sang professionally, he remains my inspiration and all my CDs are dedicated to him. I like to think that he'd like my music, since it's built on the foundation he handed down to me.