Rating: 4 Pulses
According to Frank Zappa, “jazz is not dead?it just smells funny.” Well, nothing smells funny in MTSU professor’s Don Aliquo’s newest release. Titled Jazz Folk, the album brings us a collection of musical pieces that seem to be more oriented toward the jazz realm than folk. The album showcases pieces written by Aliquo, Jules Styne, Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill, and Rufus Reid, and was recorded at MTSU by professors John Hill and Michael Flemming.
As a piece, the album works. The album’s title track, “Jazz Folk,” sets the pace with a medium tempo that feels good and showcases the amazingly smooth bass of Rufus Reid. The groove is accentuated by some excellent improvisational explorations that get you prepared for the rest of the album. The second track is the classic “This Is New” (Weill/Gershwin). The track breathes musicality, and showcases some truly excellent work by Dana Landry on the piano. The drums will have you wishing you could be watching theses guys live . . . and dancing. It’s absolutely wonderful as a performance all around.
Later in the album, we are treated to tracks that range from the slow and somber “Peaceful Flame,” to the somewhat oddly satisfying “Frayed.” Track seven, “Never Never Land,” makes me wish I was a way classier person who sat around drinking cocktails with a hot chick.
As far as production, the album feels good. The tones are smooth and round. There is a nice sense of air and a good connection between the parts that lets you know that these guys probably performed all of this live, and that it was well recorded.
Note to John Hill?there is one slightly up front and dry ride cymbal in the right hand speaker that doesn’t bother me at all and or take away from the music.
Overall, I would recommend this album to jazz enthusiasts and people looking to add a good classy-sounding jazz album to their collection. The music is solid, smooth, and leaves the impression that you just got to listen to some people who could actually play music (a rare thing these days). If you are just starting to get into jazz, I would probably grab Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew before I’d grab this. But, if you do grab it, it will certainly leave a good taste in your mouth, and probably will having you tapping your feet.