Ray Barbee


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If it hasn't already happened, a genre of music should be coined called "Former Skater Turned Jazzy Post-Rocker." It wouldn't be a hugely populated category, but it definitely exists, if only in the Northern California region between the surf/college town of Santa Cruz and the San Francisco Bay Area. Its most obvious champion would be Tommy Guerrero, who, between the dark and dubby instrumental post-rock of his ensemble Jet Black Crayon (who have shared the stage with Tortoise, among others) and the jazzier leanings of his eponymously named work, has the market cornered. An offshoot category would include the folkish leanings of Travis Graves' Palace-esque Mt. Egypt. Enter Ray Barbee, a peer and friend of Guerrero and Graves in the world of professional boarding, and also a phenomenal musician who has focused on that aspect of his life in recent years, perhaps because age would not allow the road rash and broken bones of guerilla street skating to heal as they once did. The maturity of age, changing priorities, family life, and a long past of camaraderie are all evoked on Barbee's debut EP. The collection of guitar-based instrumentals on Triumphant are literal bursts of sunshine, sketching wordless portraits of summery days on the breezy sun-drenched beach, snapshots of a bustling weekend boardwalk, frozen moments in time saturated with nostalgia. "To Soar on Wings Like Eagles, Now That Would Be Nice" has a stripped-down jazz stroll suggesting what the guitar-bass interplay of the Minutemen would sound like without the attention-deficit punk aspect, and which brings a smile to the face with its deliriously syrupy trumpet solo. "Let's Persevere" is a strum my, quasi-Spanish guitar workout over quick-paced drum machine and subtle electronics and vibes. "Triumphant Procession" invokes the Chicago sound with its interlaced guitars and bass. "Fully Persueded" contains a wooden xylophone solo which conjures an imaginary post-surfing visit to a Baja taqueria where Herb Alpert dominates the jukebox. "A Word Aptly Spoken" floats by on sweet pedal steel and organ riffs. And "Moment by Moment" closes with a vibe and sax duet backed by soft-stringed acoustic guitar. This EP goes by much too quickly and demands that the CD player be put on endless loop so as to provide the perfect soundtrack to the late afternoon beach picnic, complete with kite flying and passed jugs of wine, as the sun gets low, the breeze begins to cool, and the bonfire is built. Pure summer bliss.

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