Here's a straightforward album with a rather intriguing title Miles Goes Wes, Texas-bred guitarist Jim Casey's unassuming homage to a pair of jazz icons, Messrs Davis and Montgomery. While the session lays heavy emphasis from end to end on funky backbeats and assertive percussion, Casey strives to nurture interest by varying the group size and instrumentation, traversing the gamut from quartet (Marcus Miller's "Splatch") to nonet (Davis' "So What" and Montgomery's "Angel") and using organist Bobby Sparks to apply splashes of color on five tracks.
If one is attuned to that wavelength, it's a style that should prove consistently rewarding. When, on the other hand, even Victor Young's shapely "Stella by Starlight" is given the same thumping treatment, it could be a sign that more diversity might have served well the group's collective purpose. Within those slender parameters, however, Casey and his mates give a good account of themselves, placing some generally familiar melodies on a bedrock of two-beat candor that is easy to chew on and digest.
In addition to the album's lone standard, the groups perform five compositions by Davis, three more by Montgomery, Miller's "Splatch" and "Tutu," Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's "Four" (often attributed to Davis) and John Lennon / Paul McCartney's "A Day in the Life." Sparks offers several respectable solos, as does trumpeter Steve Howard, while Casey remains for the most part in a supporting role. Saxophonists Jeff Robbins and Randy Lee Odell also weigh in from time to time, as does keyboardist Bernard Wright. It is the ensemble, however, anchored by drummers Kirk Covington, Gregg Bissonette or Jason Thomas and featuring percussionists John Bryant, Michael Medina (who triples on bass and drums) and Emily Medina that propels the enterprise unflaggingly forward.
As noted, Casey and chief arranger Frank Hames had a game plan and carry it out well. Whether that strikes a receptive chord is for the listener to decide. And don't be misled by the fact that a dozen songs are listed on the CD case's back cover, eleven on the CD itself. There are thirteen in all, and you'll find them listed correctly in the inner booklet.
So What; Splatch; Road Song; Solar; 4 on 6; Tutu; Nardis; Full Nelson; Stella by Starlight; Angel; Four; All Blues; A Day in the Life.
Jim Casey: leader, guitar; Steve Howard: trumpet; Jeff Robbins: sax, flute; Randy Lee: tenor sax; Bobby Sparks: B-3 organ; Bernard Wright: keyboard, synthesizer; Frank Hames: keyboard, synthesizer, arranger; Braylon Lacy: bass; Rick Rigsby: bass; James Driscoll: bass; Kirk Covington: drums; Jason Thomas: drums; Greg Bissonette: drums; John Bryant: percussion; Michael Medina: bass, drums, percussion; Emily Medina: percussion.
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