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Java Men: Orbituary

Jim Santella By

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Where’s the music going these days? In what direction? The Java Men know. They’re taking it there.

Jazz’s modern mainstream covers a whole lotta ground. This organ-guitar-drums trio swings, while offering fresh sounds for a new generation of jazz lovers. The balance between hard-driving rhythms and soothing landscapes is one to take seriously. Java Men brings it all together as both art and enjoyable music. Ray Rizzo works over the whole drum set, never getting loud. He employs a variety of textures that even includes hands on drums and friction-rubbed tones. Craig Wagner plays from a soulful blues background, always lyrical and empathetic. Todd Hildreth, employing a Hammond B-3 for the most part, captures the sound of masters such as Jimmy Smith and Groove Holmes.

Hildreth’s "It’s All Yours If You Want It" dances as a happy New Orleans jambalaya, containing many flavors all at once. The trio’s struttin’ "Dark Ride" takes the listener through dimly lit streets, establishing an impression fit for describing the danger that lurks around every corner. Steeped in the blues, the tune tells a story of how we rely on the familiar while exploring the unknown. Wagner’s folksy "Five" relies on a skipping meter counted in ten. With a dramatic grand piano buoyancy, the piece remains bright with a country & western flavor. Recommended, Orbituary expresses a contemporary approach to mainstream jazz that keeps the tradition while introducing fresh new ideas.


Track Listing: Orbituary; The Maja Ven; It

Personnel: Todd Hildreth- keyboards; Ray Rizzo- drums, percussion; Craig Wagner- guitars.

Title: Orbituary | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Ear X-tacy


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