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Tomo is the second album on Torri honoring composer Reed Kotler, following last year's release of It's About Love by pianist/arranger Bill Cunliffe. Though little known outside San Francisco, Kotler is a modern composer who seems to have struck an appreciative chord with the Los Angeles-based Cunliffe.
As with It's About Love, the music on Tomo is gentle and relaxing. Offering a handsome set of twelve tunes, the group of saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Darek Oles, and drummer Mark Ferber evoke the softer sides of jazz, though always mindful of a jovial beat. The bop sensations of "All My Love's for You" begin the engagement with Sheppard's tenor highlighting the group's charm. The bossa nova-like "I Will Always Love You," "Did I Ask You If You Knew?" and "Someday, I Will Find Her" are more romantic pieces, with guitarist Koonse enjoying a prominent role in their seduction.
Here and with most of the album's content, there is a persistent, welcoming trait in Kotler's musichis nostalgia for the classic quintet sound of the '50s and early '60s. Pieces like "In a Restful Place," "It's Been a While," and especially "On a Warm Summer Night" seem plucked from a bygone era, a time solely available to us through the straight-ahead wonders of jazz. Cunliffe's arrangements and his gift for graceful executions, do great justice to Kotler's vision as well. The album's final piece, in particular, "Waltz for Gary," moves and enchants with an elegance that is the album's most prominent feature. Fans of Cunliffe's style will find great pleasures here.
Track Listing: All My Love's For You, Sweet Suzannah, I Will Always Love You, Did I Ask You If
You Knew(That I Love You)?, Someday, I Will Finder Her, In A Restful Place, On A
Warm Summer Night, When I Look At You, Love's Such A Funny Thing, It's Been A
While, Joyful Times, Waltz For Gary.
Personnel: Bob Sheppard, tenor and soprano sax, flute d'amour; Larry Koonse, guitar; Bill
Cunliffe, piano, arrangements; Darek Oles, bass; Mark Ferber, drums; Reed Kotler,
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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