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As I listen to the seemingly unending stream of contemporary jazz being issued these days, I often ponder what it is that makes some CDs stand out as being likable, worthwhile and recommendable, while others just seem like manufactured formulaic ear candy. I've never heard of Tony Darren prior to receiving his CD Sun Song for review, but both the initial audition and repeated listenings place this CD solidly into the former category.
So: What makes this one work? The compositions, all but two by Darren, are likable in an easy-going sort of way. They seem to absorb many tunes that have come before and package them in new ways; they're new but they make you think you've heard them before. A plus for me is the fact that all the parts are played by live musicians, and in this case it's an All-Star cast: Gregg Karukas or Joe Sample on keyboards, Vinnie Coliauta or Land Richards on drums, John Pena, Alex Al, or Keith Jones on bass, Lenny Castro and / or Brian Kilgore on percussion, and Dino Saldo and Tom Scott (on one cut) on sax. The expertise of these musicians certainly helps the music along. And perhaps the most subjective, intangible quality this CD has is taste; simple, eloquent, good taste.
In any event, this CD pushes the right buttons for me. I like it.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.