Craig Chaquico

Four Corners

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Four Corners works its way backwards through the musical life of this former rock guitarist (Jefferson Starship) and current smooth jazz phenomenon. The disc opens with the sound of a rush of wind leading into the laid-back Russ Freeman composition "The Drifter," which finds the two friends contemplating the universe with swirling, soaring acoustic and electric guitars amid spacy atmospheric sounds and percussive rumbling. Combining a crunchy shuffling hip-hop groove with more organic tribal rhythms behind a cool weave of his guitar and Ozzie Ahlers' bluesy keyboard harmonies, Chaquico explores both the calm and the energy inherent in the color shifts as a "Turquoise Moon" rises over the desert. "Red Rocks" -- featuring the lazy fl├╝gelhorn accents of John Halblieb -- and the densely percussive "Arizona Daybreak" also capture that vibe.

Then Chaquico invites listeners back to where it all began, the years before he joined Starship when he was listening to their first incarnation, Jefferson Airplane. His abstract approach to "Somebody to Love" requires more than one listen to catch the familiar melody. He and soprano saxman Richard Hardy spin in psychedelic circles around a marching drumbeat hypnosis created by 3rd Force. "Haight Ashbury," no doubt conceived by Chaquico and co-writer Boney James as an ode to San Francisco and flower power, comes across not as a '60s throwback but simply another radio-perfect hit crafted by producer Paul Brown. And while Chaquico's albums usually tackle adult issues like spirituality and ancient explorations, it's touching to see him convey a more innocent childlike wonder on the gentle sway of "A Mother's Heart."

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