Marty Paich

The Rock-Jazz Incident

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The title The Rock-Jazz Incident tends to suggest something strange or disastrous occurred during the recording of this album, which is hardly the case, though this set from arranger and bandleader Marty Paich ends up having only so much to do with either rock or jazz. On The Rock-Jazz Incident, Paich takes a handful of well-known pop tunes of the day (which in this case was 1966) along with a few originals and dresses them up with contemporary big-band arrangements, dominated by horns, keyboards, and a tight, well-mannered rhythm section. While Paich was a respected figure in West Coast jazz with an impressive résumé, these sessions have more of a middle-of-the-road feel, lacking the élan and sense of adventure of his best work; this often sounds more like a film or television score than anything else, through Paich and his accompanists deliver strong, muscular work on these 11 cuts and their take on numbers like "Call Me," "It's Not Unusual," "Promise Her Anything," and "Watermelon Man" is gently idiosyncratic and entertaining. The real oddity is a honking sax workout on "Yesterday" that makes Paul McCartney's tale of lost love sound like something Ace Cannon cut on his lunch hour, but most of the pop numbers survive the transition quite well, and originals like "The Proud Camel" and "Gotta Go" reveal just a bit more swing, and on these selections Paich gives his musicians a little more room to color the surroundings. Anyone expecting a meeting of the minds between rock and jazz is going to be awfully disappointed with this album, but Paich does turn in 29 minutes of intelligent, well-crafted pop music that nods to both genres without ever taking sides, and it's an amusing curiosity in his catalog.

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