201

Stephen Philip Haagen: Sunday on the Bay

By

Sign in to view read count
No matter how you try and slice it, Stephen Philip Haager's debut release Sunday on the Bay is a collection of what essentially can be described as lounge music. Almost all the tracks follow the "smooth jazz" (VERY smooth) style of composition: pseudo-funky percussion (acoustic and programmed) and bass work, with the standard soprano sax and piano thrown in for good measure. Despite its cookie cutter nature, Sunday on the Bay does contains some nice instrumental work and will definitely calm your soul; however, it unfortunately doesn't contain quite enough substance to really sink your teeth into.

What's interesting about this release is despite pianist Haager being the sole composer of all the tracks, the piano playing is somewhat lacking in comparison to some of John James' soprano sax work (especially on the track "Julia") and Ernie Nunez's bass playing. While it is certainly admirable that Haager leaves plenty of room for the other musicians, I expected a little more out of the piano bits on the album - I'm sure he is an accomplished musician, and I'd like to hear him let loose a little more on future efforts. Other standout moments on Sunday on the Bay include the opening 12-string guitar work on "Shine On," some nice horn arrangements on the title cut, and some VERY nice drumming on "Julia". Given that these folks know how to play their instruments proficiently, I wondered why so much restraint was shown on the tracks; if Haager and Co. perhaps would experiment more with faster tempos and more eclectic soloing, I feel future releases from this group would be much more engaging and interesting.

Part of the reason that this release fails to impress is that Haager seems content to stay within the quite limited realm of "smooth jazz." If the intent of Sunday on the Bay was to create a CD with very relaxing background music, the Haager has succeeded admirably. However, if Haager wished Sunday to be musically challenging and an engaging listen I'm afraid he's fallen a bit short. With more robust compositions and more adventurous playing, I'm sure these guys could improve on their next release.


Track Listing: 1. Shine On (4:29); 2. Sunday on the Bay (4:24); 3. Spring Song (4:13); 4. Blue Mix (4:19); 5. Bonham Road (4:30); 6. Julia (4:59); 7. Bright Eyes (4:47); 8. Streetalk (4:08); 9. Journey's End (4:12)

Personnel: Stephen Philip Haager: Piano & Keyboards; Evan Mars: Guitars; Brian Munroney: Guitars; Ernie Nunez: Bass Guitars; Tom Ravel: Drums and Percussion, Drum Programming; Norman Arnold: Drums and Percussion; J. Wayne Linsey: Drum Programming; Lee Thornberg: Trumpet; Doug Webb: Saxophone; Steve Elliott: Saxophone; John James: Soprano Sax

| Record Label: Carpet Cat Records | Style: Contemporary/Smooth


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Serpentines" CD/LP/Track Review Serpentines
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "Sinking Houseboat Confusion" CD/LP/Track Review Sinking Houseboat Confusion
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "Magic Peterson Sunshine" CD/LP/Track Review Magic Peterson Sunshine
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 7, 2016
Read "Saturday Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Saturday Songs
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "Live in 1967 Volume Two" CD/LP/Track Review Live in 1967 Volume Two
by Doug Collette
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "Sanctuary" CD/LP/Track Review Sanctuary
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!