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Though perhaps best (or at least better) known for his work with The Police, guitarist Andy Summers seems to be doing rather well for himself these days. He may not be filling arenas and attracting screaming teenage girls, but their mothers can scream pretty loud as well, and as it is to them that Mr. Summers now appears to be playing, his maturity and vision work in his favor. Backed by bassist Tony Levin and drummer Gregg Bissonette (except on "Big Thing," which features the touring band of Jerry Watts on basses and Bernie Dresel on cymbal-laden drum set), Summers works well as a front man. In fact, the lack of single-named eco-concious smoothies and relatives of famous composers allows Summers to spread out and explore his music.
Summers puts his "Soul-O" amp to good use in the original tracks "Big Thing," "Strange Earth," "Mr. X," "Rumplestiltskin" and "The Somnambulist." However, through the predominance of covers of tunes such as Horace Silver's cleanly swaying "Lonely Woman," the spritely swing of "Monk's We See," the samba tinge of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" and an easy-going take on Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," Mr. X demonstrates a solid grasp not only of jazz (albeit 'smooth jazz'), but also of a number of other streams as well. This is especially evident on the title track, which repeatedly rolls in like an ambient Latin tide, then flashes sharply and smoothly to such diverse styles as polka and surf (Mr. X must be quite a dancer indeed!), in addition to a sampling of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." Whether Summers was underappreciated in the '80's remains to be seen, but his solo work definitely deserves attention!
Track Listing: 1. Big Thing
2. Three Marias
3. Strange Earth
4. Afro Blue
5. Last Dance of Mr. X
6. Lonely Woman
7. We See
11. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.