After recording more than a hundred albums for other people, including three that were Grammy nominated, drummer Todd Strait has finally released his first CD as a leader. With so many dedications to his relatives, it is clear that this record has been simmering for a long time. Well, it's finally cooked and servedand it's delicious.
Strait has assembled an exceptional quartet, with Bill Mays on piano, who arranged all but the last track; the well-seasoned bassist Bob Bowman; and the fluid and creative guitarist Danny Embrey. Strait has selected fine material that is less commonly played, such as two tunes by Thad Jones, two by fellow Kansan Pat Metheny, a Wayne Shorter, and even a Beethoven. There is one original, the lovely "Lullaby For Omi" (his daughter). Strait does a great, soulful job singing "Old Folks" in honor of his father; his children sing here too, on the last two tracks. They were recorded long ago, then folded into the current music with a technological tweak or two. Nicely mixed by Eldar Djangirov, this record is well worth the wait.
Things hit the ground running with the title track, which changes tempos but never stops swinging until its final, surprisingly unadorned piano note. And speaking of surprises, the second tune, "Fur Elise," is the bane of every beginning pianist, even if it was written by Beethoven. After an initial salute to the original, the quartet turns it upside down and inside out, taking it for a satisfying spin before returning home.
This is one of those rare CDs where every track is so enjoyable, and each solo so notable, that it makes no sense to itemize every one. However, highlights include the rocking consistency of the groove, Mays's exquisite, unaccompanied take on Metheny's "In Her Family," and the audible delight of expert musicians who are listening closely to each other.
To avoid frustration, please note: due to a design error, the track order on the liner descriptions and back cover do not match. The accurate one is numbered.
There’ll Be Some Changes Made; Fur Elise; Kids Are Pretty People; It’s Just Talk; In Her
Family; Tiptoe; Infant Eyes; Lullaby For Omi; Old Folks; Once Upon A Dream; What A
Todd Strait: drums, co-producer, vocals (track 9); Bill Mays: piano, arranger, co-
producer; Bob Bowman: bass; Danny Embrey: guitar; Laura Caviani: piano (track 11); Naomi Strait: vocals (track 11); Kai Strait: vocals (track 10).
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Author of "The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the myth of the mad genius," now in its updated second edition,Dr. J combines her love of jazz and her fascination with psychology, focusing on where they overlap: in celebrating the individual spirit.