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Born and reared in Hawaii, bassist Fred Randolph developed a passion for jazz at an early age. After migrating to California, he diligently pursued higher education to achieve his music-oriented aspirations. Following performing on film soundtracks, and leading numerous bands, Randolph spent two seasons as a member of the Diablo Symphony Orchestra. A current resident of the Bay Area, the bassist recorded his first solo effort Learning Curve (Creative Spirit, 2003), which this writer became thoroughly enamored with upon its release. And when you roll-up all of Randolph's experience in jazz circles, it becomes noticeably evident that the artist possesses an expansive vernacular.
With a large ensemble providing support amid shifting personnel on a per track basis, Randolph shines as a purveyor of memorable compositions where, in general terms, bold and brash technical acumen does not negate the big picture. Therefore, the leader's multi-tiered arrangements, accelerated by the soloists' fluidity of execution, assist with firming up the compositional aspects.
On "Eclipse Randolph interjects a bossa nova groove which alternates and, more importantly, contrasts the ensemble's briskly enacted swing vamp. Here and during various tracks, saxophonist Rob Roth and trumpeter Erik Jekabson render melodically hued solos via an up-tempo vibe as they largely reconstruct the primary melodic components. The band switches gears on the breezy and warmhearted Brazilian piece "Melodia Sem Fim, featuring Sandy Cressman's dream-laden vocalise, where she re-harmonizes the samba-drenched motif with layered flutes and accenting horns.
Randolph's palette also consists of hard-bop, but he shifts the tide a bit on the retro soul/rock piece "Soul Stuff, where electric guitarist Jeff Massanari slams matters into overdrive. In addition, Randolph's electric bass solo serves as a blast from the past, as we consider the days when bassists often soloed within the core tune amid lyrically-rich phrasings. In sum, it's a lively program that spins a proverbial breath of fresh air upon the paths frequently traversed. Randolph's artistry and acute production skills deserve widespread recognition.
Track Listing: Eclipse; The Wish; New Day; Melodia Sem Fim; The Longing; 90 Dollar Drive; Ice Nine; Soul Stuff; Way Back When; Balancing Acts; Sitting Bull's Dilemma.
Personnel: Fred Randolph: acoustic bass, fretless electric bass, electric bass; Art Hirahara: acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes; Tim Bulkley: drums (1-8, 10, 11); Erik Jekabson: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rob Roth: tenor sax, soprano sax; Jeff Massanari: acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Jon Otis: drums )1-8, 1, 11); Michaelle Goerlitz: percussion; David Frazier: percussion; Patricio Angulo: percussion (3); Sandy Cressman: vocals (5); Noel Jewkes: flute (5); Dan Zemelman: Hammond Organ; Charlie Wilson: trombone (9).