Craig Buhler


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With Skykomish, Seattle-area sax player Craig Buhler asks the same question that others have asked in jazz both contemporaneously (Marius Nordal's Boomer Jazz) and previously (Herbie Hancock's The New Standard): namely, can a pop standard be suitable material for a jazz standard? Buhler enlists a handful of like-minded musicians in his quest, moving through a series of oddly picked pieces for a swing-ensemble treatment. "Eleanor Rigby" gets far more swing than one might have expected -- it's perhaps too casual for its original mood to hold up. The theme to "Flash Dance" is slowed down enough that the life is sucked from it. At the same time, some songs are given new lives. "Save the Best for Last" is given a crooning line of brass that slowly develops the ballad's sound well. Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You" takes a while to develop, but becomes almost comical in the juxtaposition of lounge styling with the original intent. The players themselves do a fine job throughout, adding strong streaks of color to sometimes lifeless arrangements. The performances are the highlight throughout, while the classic compositions are treated more unevenly. It's hit and miss, but there's some definite intrigue buried in Skykomish.

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