Gary Meek

Time One

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With so many sax albums in 2000 being just slick-produced rehashings of all that's gone before, it's nice to find a bold performer like Gary Meek, whose Time One plays like a friendly, crazy living room jam session as much as a powerhouse detonation of pop, jazz, Brazilian, and even African TNT. Most saxmen worth their weight can probably blow their horn with similar facility, but few write tunes as furious and loose enough to allow themselves to capitalize on their chops. Not to say that Meek can't write himself a good old-fashioned radio tune: "For a Long Time" and "A New Day" are as airwave snappy as they come. It's just that the raucous yet sharply structured jazziness is so much more interesting. Aside from strong melodic intentions, Meek's diverse sound is held together by a consistently percussive unit featuring Jerry Watts on bass, Mike Shapiro on drums, Mitch Forman on Rhodes and piano, and a few cameo vocal shots by Kevyn Lettau. Whether fluttering on flute or mixing saxes, Meek keeps things wild and improvisational, or lush and tender, edging only slightly at the end towards avante garde self-indulgence.

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