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Jazz pianist Marc Cary pays a bit of homage to the electric piano that Harold Rhodes started developing way back in the mid-forties as Leo Fender subsequently bought the rights and appended his last name to an instrument that is cherished by many a keyboardist. With Rhodes Ahead, Vol 1 Cary performs on the rhodes, and the now ancient yet still delectable (analog) moog synthesizer, while the end results prove to be somewhat of a mixed bag at best.
The opener, a composition titled “Rhodes Ahead Intro” features groove beats and Cary’s airy chord progressions performed on the rhodes, yet his dissonant lines and tinny sounding moog EFX/soloing seems a bit superfluous or to some extent, pointless. On “Treasure Part 1” Cary provides the textures yet electric bassist Tarus Mateen turns in some fluid lines to an otherwise forgettable theme while “Inside Your Self (You’ll Find Love)” boasts a straight-four pulse and affable jungle-beat rhythms. At this juncture some of the material and concepts sound dated yet “Take Me Higher” is a hearty spin on that 70’s vibe made famous by Herbie Hancock as Cary’s dreamy and enticingly melodic statements along with a lazy funk-style backbeat hits the mark. The final track titled “Turning” boasts a breezy, ambient motif marked by Cary’s emphatic and well-placed notes. Yet at this point it may have been too little, too late
Throughout, Cary displays a sincere appreciation for this time-honored instrument while many of these pieces are nothing more than fragmented themes stitched together as we hope that this highly regarded jazz pianist comes up with a little more – compositional – substance on Vol. 2 of this series.
* * ½ (out of * * * * *)
Marc Cary; rhodes, roque moog, mini moog, drums, drum programming & percussion: Tarus Mateen; electric bass, vocals & drum programming on track 5: Yarbrough Charles Laws; flute on track 9 and drum programming on track 11: Terreon Gully; drums on tracks 3,4 & 7: Shariff Simmons; vocals track 8: Penny Williams; vocals track 10: Dana Murray; drum programming track 8: Roy Hargrove; background vocals on track 5.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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