|Rare Blend: Evolution Theory|
|2002, TSM Productions, TMS-621118|
Evolution Theory by Rare Blend is a straight ahead fusion effort that beautifully balances well-conceived compositions, thematic development, and outstanding instrumental realization of the musical vision. Do not be deceived by the fantasy CD sleave, and do not be skeptical that good fusion could come out of Cleveland, Ohio. Rare Blend has created a truly enjoyable collection of fusion arrangements on Evolution Theory that are easily accessible to a wide ranging audience. Rare Blend has managed with striking success to bridge the arduous chasm that lies between listener digestibility and jazz technicianry, tonality, and meters. In addition to this, Rare Blend does not stop at jazz fusion, but also integrates elements of progressive rock and world music that round out the sound giving Evolution Theory a distictive conceptual style that spans broadly across the musical spectrum.
It is deeply satisfying for a listener to ingest music that is pinned upon the principles that the specific listener is inclined to prefer. And for me, the approach that Rare Blend takes to their music on Evolution Theory is right in line with my way of thinking for what I want to hear in music. The music is based upon a variety of thoughful progressions, themes, and arrangements that flow seamlessly together to take the listener on a musical journey that only repeats to recapitulate important themes. The tonality is complex but does not get so abstract that it is difficult to absorb or digest. The structure is melody and theme centric with melodies that are built upon savory harmonies that explore outside of the diatonic frame. And, the melodies are voiced with continuously changing variations that keep them interesting. There is good feeling and projection of character that is conveyed with the playing. There is a gratifying mixture of rhythms and dynamics that add yet another dimension to the musical experience. The tones and instrumentation utilized clearly convey the musical vision, as does the precision in the playing. And, putting all of the technical aspects aside, the music has a clearly percievable direction and musical vision that is easily absorbed and aims straight for the center of my tastes. Rare Blend should not only appeal to technicians, but I suspect that the conceptual depth of this album will probably appeal to a much wider audience of listeners. There is some very enjoyable music contained on this CD!
The CD opens with "Little Mean Baby", a driving fusion track that layers some inspired guitar and piano soloing over riveting bass lines, and groove-setting keyboards. The impressive guitar and piano soloing relentlessly drive the piece with uncontainable skill and talent that the players can hardly wait to unleash. "Lost 7/8" ensues with more driving fusion exhibitionism of complex harmonization and time meters that somehow manage to remain easily accessible. "Catemaco", the third track from the CD, is a standout track on the album and my favorite from the album. "Catemaco" is a Spanish flavored acoustic masterpiece that features tasty, accessible, melodic themes that flow fluidly into some inspiring changes that bring an unexpected dimension and depth of feeling to the composition. The composition on "Catemaco" is exquisite with its beautiful, clean-toned acoustic melody lines and complimentary piano voicings and phrasings, both of which are layered over some sublime percussionry and acoustic rhythms that transition through streaming progressions. The themes are recapitulated with some inspired electric guitar voicings that take the piece to a new level of the listener experience, all perfectly conceived and flawlessly executed. And, so the album proceeds, each tracking adding a new dimension to the musical experience, and each track exhibiting a dedicated effort to excelling in musical excellence by the group.
Evolution Theory is a superb collection of eclectic tracks that cover a wide scope of musical styles that Rare Blend seamlessly weaves together to realize their unique musical perspective. The end result is an album that contains a plethora of enjoyable arrangements that should appeal to a wide audience. I would recommend this CD to fans of instrumental music of any genre. Check it out!
|Keyboards, Vocals, Didgeridoo||Bobbi Holt|
|Bass||Jeff Scott, Kip Reed|
|1) Little Mean Baby|
|2) Lost 7/8|
|4) Belly Dancer|
|6) Techno Jam|
|7) Apochromatic Wanderings|
|8) Fifty Thousand Years|
|9) Rod's Migraine|
|10) So Cool|
~ Christopher Ruel ~ www.ChrisRuel.com ~ Chris@ChrisRuel.com ~ Chris Ruel's Monthly Spotlight
This review featured in: Rare Blend: Infnity (CD, 46:54); TSM Productions, VB22598 Having reviewed Rare Blend’s self-titled EP release, (Progression Issue 31), I see they have added well over 25:00 worth of new tunes. It seems they also dropped a slow tune, “Isabella” this release. It is worth repeating that Rare Blend is Vic Samalot on guitar, Bobbi Holt on keys, Jeff Scott on bass, Paul Stranahan on drums, and Tom Doggett guesting on sax. This is guitar-driven, jazzy, funked up, fusion-ish jam. Samalot stretches amply as many of the compositions are primarily written by him. The occasional synth or bass lead filler improv pops up here and there. Strongest cuts are “Blue Samba”, “Z’hadum”, “Blue Diamond”, “Funky Ovulation Shuffle”, and “Kitchen Cinque”. You will hear Santana and the little-known A. Mouzon, L. Ritenour, T. Bolin project Mind Transplant on portions of the above. Funk undercurrents are strong with rock drive and full jazz sensitivities in Rare Blend. If more fusion-fired unison lines, (bassist Scott knows the formula), widely variant time sigs, and less boogie-down grooves are used in this group’s future releases they might even echo such acclaimed jazz fusionists as Tribal Tech, 5 After 4, and F-5. I hear very strong potential in Rare Blend. Notably on “Time Upon A Time” they really wowed me in the piece’s first 3:10 with a unique compositional voice but thereafter they fell back into bland lounge jazz standards for the duration. Avoidance of been-there-done-that, jazzy breaks and groove-a-thons will only serve to better Rare Blend. I’m a firm believer in “comfortable jamming territory” for a musician tends to lose listener interest rapidly. Being good at the expected is laudable but not excellent. Overall, Rare Blend’s Infinity is a decent CD, outdoing their ealier EP. ~ John W. Patterson
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