244

Craig Buhler: Skykomish

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
Craig Buhler: Skykomish Reed man Craig Buhler, an educator by profession, is in every sense of the definition a West Coast jazz musician. He also serves as Musical Director of the 18-piece Stardust Big Band and as leader of the Jazz 101 combo—all significant credentials to being an established jazz artist. But there is another side to this versatile musician that emerges here, drawing from his experience as a rock and gospel playing musician, with Skykomish eschewing traditional jazz compositions in favor of music from other genres, bringing them into the jazz camp through creative new arrangements.



The music from Buhler's eighth self-produced album is taken from a blues and pop foundation and cleverly reworked into a basic jazz album, which is nothing new as pop and blues songs, throughout the history of jazz, have often served as a source for new material.

On this twelve-track disc of popular music, there are pieces from pop icons including Kenny Loggins, Burt Bacharach, Gordon Lightfoot and John Lennon. Buhler, who performs on saxophones and clarinet, surrounds himself with a light ensemble, often producing a quality big band sound which is well harnessed in masking obvious pop songs with an overtly jazzy facade.

Buhler kick starts the music in a very bluesy fashion with "Roll Over Redmond," featuring the saxophonist on a flashy blues-driven solo supported by a couple of more solo shots from Thornburg and trombonist Dan Barrett. The band enters smooth jazz territory with a perky interpretation of Kenny Loggins/Michael McDonald's "What A Fool Believes," complete with another soothing touch from Buhler's tenor. The Lennon/McCartney classic, "Eleanor Rigby," has always been a somber melancholy song until now; Buhler's imaginative arrangement turning the piece into an upbeat burner that moves to a lively race horse tempo.

The leader's own "Skykomish Shuffle" gets down and dirty revealing a superb melody bolstered by an array of solos from almost every member of the band. One of the standout renditions on the disc is Stevie Wonder's "Creepin,'" where Buhler expresses himself well on clarinet. Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" and Burt Bacharach's "Windows Of The World" are two light-centered tunes containing more of the smooth jazz texture and color that's evident throughout. The music continues largely in an upbeat style with more material from the movie 1983 movie Flash Dance ("What A Feeling"), Dionne Warwick and other pop sources.

While the music has a heavy, pop-oriented slant, the arrangements combined with the sensational performance from Buhler and crew, succeed in recasting the music in a very jazz-centric light, serving to illuminate the obvious: that Skykomish is one fine and entertaining jazz session.


Track Listing: Roll Over Redmond; What A Fool Believes; When You Believe(Prince of Egypt); Eleanor Rigby; Skykomish Shuffle; Creepin'; If You Could Read My Mind; Windows Of The World; Waiting For A Girl; Flash Dance (What A Feeling); Oh Happy Day; Save The Best For Last.

Personnel: Craig Buhler: saxophones, clarinet; Lee Thornburg: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dan Barrett: trombone; Brian Atkinson: vibes; Karen Hammack: piano; Jamie Findlay: guitar; Chris Conner: bass; Paul Kreibich: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Discernment Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Russell Malone Russell Malone
guitar, electric
Stan Getz Stan Getz
sax, tenor
Art Blakey Art Blakey
drums
Gerry Mulligan Gerry Mulligan
sax, baritone
Spyro Gyra Spyro Gyra
band/orchestra
Wayman Tisdale Wayman Tisdale
bass, electric
Joel Harrison Joel Harrison
guitar, electric
Peter White Peter White
guitar
Brian Culbertson Brian Culbertson
keyboard
Thomas Marriott Thomas Marriott
trumpet

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Ena / One" CD/LP/Track Review Ena / One
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Rivers" CD/LP/Track Review Rivers
by James Nadal
Published: June 13, 2016
Read "Neuroplastic Groove" CD/LP/Track Review Neuroplastic Groove
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Early Americans" CD/LP/Track Review Early Americans
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 30, 2016
Read "Honey For The Biscuit" CD/LP/Track Review Honey For The Biscuit
by James Nadal
Published: August 13, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!