Tom Coster

Did Jah Miss Me?!?

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What was true of Gato Barbieri's commercial pop-jazz projects was also true of Tom Coster's -- you knew that he was capable of a lot more, but you had to give him credit for being commercial in a generally tasteful fashion. Did Jah Miss Me?!? which came out on Headfirst in 1989 and was reissued by JVC several years later, finds the former Santana keyboardist trying to balance commercial and artistic considerations. In the late '80s, many instrumentalists were all too willing to throw integrity out the window in order to get on commercial NAC stations -- if insuring airplay meant recording outright elevator muzak, they were quite willing to do it. But Coster generally maintains his dignity on this album, which unites him with saxman Ernie Watts, guitarist Frank Gambale, bassist Randy Jackson and drummer Dennis Chambers. Groove-oriented, pop-jazz instrumentals like "Ant Dance," "Bad Short" and "It's Just a Matter of Love" aren't fabulous, but they're decent and aren't without some grit. The only really embarrassing songs on the CD are the saccharine "La Luna Bella" and the schmaltzy title tune, which finds Watts sounding too Kenny G-ish for his own good. But for the most part, Coster refrains from prostituting himself on this crossover date.

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