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 was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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