In a crossover style between contemporary jazz and Americana, trumpeter Taylor Haskins offers a balancing act between the two genres that might suggest what would have happened had Dizzy Gillespie met Bill Frisell. Haskins and electric guitarist Ben Monder play original music built on the spirit of the Midwestern plains, with a pinch of Jimi Hendrix melted in a steamy pot of blues and country sophistication. Add to that modified covers of songs written by Neil Young, Dave Grohl, or Tom Waits, and you have a diversified American landscape to expand or contract at will. Haskins uses spare acoustic tones, only electronically enhanced in idle moments, stretched out melodically during Grohl's "Everlong," or spiked over Latin sheen for a quirky "The Monetary System Blues." Monder's guitar glides along for the most part in slight steely repose, in twangy waltz tempo for Young's "Dead Man," or probing and poking with bassist Ben Street on "Mustangs" in a dedication to actor Steve McQueen. While the old west is more of a ghost image in this music, plaintive blues and held tension are also utilized as Haskins' trumpet swims upstream while Monder's guitar acts as an observant sentinel. Not as eerie or obsequious as one might suspect, American Dream offers a genuinely updated perspective to cowboy tales brought into an improvisation-based new era.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos