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Fully embracing electric jazz, Jeff Ray’s new release Walk Up is a politely laid-back jam album dominated by Ray originals.
The combination of Ray’s guitar and Aaron Swinn’s soft keyboard work with Daryl Hall’s electric bass and Victor Wise’s seventies-influenced drumming creates a consistently mellow atmosphere. Tunes like "Hot Music" and album highlight, "Cinnamon Lenses," offer solid grooves and bass flourishes, while the album’s most adventurous piece, "Wise Ton J," combines a funky beat with a shifting blend of guitar atmospherics relatively unusual to the jazz scene. Unfortunately, meandering melodies and narcoleptic noodiling at times lead all but the best of the tunes from the contemplative sonority one imagines Ray was aiming for into the realm of slothful slush. There just isn’t enough funk to hold the center, nor does Ray depart dramatically enough into fully unstructured ambience to induce trance.
Despite some agile moments of interest, Walk Up is basically standard fare, and though all the musicians are quite capable, the album will do little to make you sweat, take your breath away, or leave you contentedly immersed in your desk-top lava-lamp.
Track Listing: 1.Streams 2. D.R.A. 3. Hot Music 4. Everybody Loves Sunshines 5. The Walkup 6.
Wise Ton J 7. Cinnamon Lenses 8. Hoodwink
Personnel: Jaff Ray: Electric Guitar;
Aaron Swinn: Hammond B3 Organ, Rhodes Keyboard;
Darryl Hall: Electric Bass;
Victor Wise: Drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.