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

Title: Sunday on the Bay | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Carpet Cat Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Door Girl CD/LP/Track Review Door Girl
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Incidentals CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Live From A&R Studios New York August 26th 1971" CD/LP/Track Review Live From A&R Studios New York August 26th 1971
by Doug Collette
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Putting Off Death" CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Centreline Theory" CD/LP/Track Review Centreline Theory
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 26, 2016
Read "Elusive" CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "On A Monday Evening" CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "The Imperfect Sea" CD/LP/Track Review The Imperfect Sea
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.