|Michel Cusson: Wild Unit 2|
|2002, Musicor Distribution, AGCD-613|
Wild Unit 2 by Canadien, Michel Cusson, is a pretty much a straight-ahead, mostly instrumental jazz effort with slight fusional tendencies. The album features a rich tonal spectrum comprised of clean-tone guitar work, sublime bass guitar, a tactful horn section, savvy yet subtle percussion, seamless keyboard voicings, and classy sax extempore. The music can be characterized as upbeat, tasty, smooth jazz that aims for the accessible grooves that are voiced by the horn section, bass, and rhythm guitar. This style of jazz is reminiscent of feel-good summer jazz festivals in a crowded outdoor park, tropical clubs nestled on the beach shores of Florida or the Caribbean islands with live jazz sailing out over the soothing ocean late in the afternoon and into the early evening on lazy vacation days, and cigar smoke-filled, classy jazz lounges in the upscale areas of downtown on a Friday night.
Though Cusson does explore some interesting tonality on this album, his purpose does not seem to be to pioneer new areas of tonality and musical abstraction, but rather to put forth an enjoyable collection of smooth jazz tracks that highlight the interesting and well-conceived compositions he has created with melodic themes that are soulful, accessible, and well-resolved, though be it of a thoughtful and non-trivial natured resolution. The rhythms and progressions are easy to grasp yet offer some goodly feel, funk, and harmonization that will appeal to both listeners of a musically trained inclination and otherwise. The guitar work may not match up to the best progressive, jazz, or fusion players out there, but it is well-integrated, well-produced, and well-balanced within the overall musical soundscape, and is savvy enough that I venture to guess that most musicians will enjoy it. The horn section and sax lend the music its definitive character of sophisticated class.
Wild Unit 2 is a tasteful selection for listening pleasure at summer gatherings, a relaxing day at the beach, or cocktail parties. Though I intend no slight toward the instrumental proficiency of the players in saying this, I think that listeners would be best suited to approaching this album with their technical attitudes checked in at the door because the value of this music lies in its entertaining nature and enjoyable listen that it so generously offers. And, that approach to the music being the baseline taken, I think that most musicians will also appreciate the balance that Cusson has struck in containing any impulses of flamboyent technical proficiency (that might otherwise overcomplicate the music) with the production of tactful music. Though this is not to say the level of proficiency is lacking in any way, because there is definitely some good playing here, and on different instruments too. The mark of good music is that the mechanics and technique involved are subservient to the musical vision and concept that the artist is striving for. Cusson clearly demonstrates that he has hit that mark on this album. It is solid from start to finish and enjoyable the whole way.
|1) Wrap It Up|
|3) El Fuego Del Alma|
|5) J. A. C. O.|
|6) Melodia Azul|
|7) That's OK|
|8) Fat Blues|
|9) Bob's Funk|
~ Christopher Ruel ~ www.ChrisRuel.com ~ Chris@ChrisRuel.com
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