Carl Michel

Carl Michel Group (+)

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This latest release by the Carl Michel Group extends the territory covered by their first release by adding more members. Thus, the (+) in the title. It is also an effort to enliven older jazz styles with new, modern looks through a play list of originals by leader/guitarist Carl Michel. On "Cold Pizza," some memories of Charles Mingus with Eric Dolphy come to mind. Meditative music in the modal style of John Coltrane and Miles Davis is heard on "Forbidden Fruit," with Paul Finkbeiner's fl├╝gelhorn laying down the bulk of the music on this track. "C.T." recalls Claude Thornhill's Orchestra when Gil Evans did the arranging (if this group didn't give birth to cool jazz, it certainly was there when it was conceived). The eight minutes devoted to this tune are some of the most engaging moments generated by the session, with a creative interaction among solo, duet, and ensemble playing. And the blues are not forgotten with the aptly named "N.O. Blues," as Michel's guitar improvises while the horn ensemble plays the melody and Chris Smith gets in some trad jazz licks on trombone, as does Andrew Bishop on clarinet. Another good set. Fats Waller and friends are remembered in an off-center, witty manner with "Jitterbug," but don't try to dance to it. Nods are made in the direction of funk and straight-ahead ballads as well, always with a new wrinkle. Perhaps the theory here is that if what's being played doesn't appeal, wait a few minutes and something may come up to catch the ear. To pull off this kind of album, a well-rehearsed group of good musicians is a necessity. Luckily they're here, so everyone should find sufficient tracks they will enjoy.

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