The marketing hype that accompanies the latest release from Canadian guitarist Brian Hughes,Shakin' Not Stirred, attempts to position this CD as "a fond look back at upon the cool jazz and spicy Latin music of the late 60s and early 70s" with a "jazz club atmosphere." Hughes cites Stanley Turrentine'sSalt Songalbum and Freddie Hubbard'sRed Clayas being particularly influential. Well... I don't hear it. That's not to say that this isn't a good CD; in fact, it's quite enjoyable. But it follows pretty closely in the grooves of his previous (and also enjoyable) CDsUnder One Sky, Between Dusk and Dreaming, Straight to You,andOne 2 One. There is undeniably a Latin and Brazilian flavoring to many cuts (as there has been on his previous releases), courtesy of Art Avalos, percussionist for Manteca, one of my favorite and most underrecognized bands. Hughes' mellow, legato guitar lines sail serenely through both the lead lines and the thoughtful solos. Hughes often displays an obvious Wes Montgomery influence with doubled octaves, and at other times his guitar synth doubles his lines an octave higher with a reedy flute sound. Longtime colleague Les Portelli turns in some inspired piano solos. A new touch is the contribution of the muted trumpet of Steve McDade (associate lead trumpet with Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass throughout the 90s) doubling the guitar lines on three tunes. For the closing cut, the CD's fourth tune "For You" is reprised with Higher Octave labelmate Third Force adding additional instrumentation, most notably Richard Hardy on soprano sax and bamboo flute.
So never mind the spin and the hype, just enjoy the CD for what it is: a mellow yet substantial program that is representative of what good contemporary jazz issupposedto be. (Higher Octave Jazz HOJCD 48093)
Tracks:Shakin' Not Stirred; Ready For Freddie; Once Again; For You; The Beat; Man About Town; There She Goes; On Moonless Nights; Smile; For You (remix). (time)
Brian Hughes, guitar, guitar synths, programming; Les Portelli, acoustic and electric piano, synths; Collin Barrett, bass; Art Avalos, percussion; Mark Kelso, drums; Steve McDade, trumpet (cuts 2,3,7). Additional personnel on For You (remix): Third Force (William Aura, "additional grooves" Richard Hardy, soprano sax, bamboo flute; Craig Dobbin, piano).
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