Mike Gealer

In the Park

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In a genre where so much creative expression sounds like similarly crafted radio fare and in which so many players who come along fail to stand out, Detroit bred saxman Mike Gealer emerges as something as a saving grace. A generally cheery composer who likes to stick to the upbeat and spirited, his tunes happen to fall into the lighthearted airplay bin. But stylistic diversity--which leads him on tasty ventures into everything from Latin funk to urban groove to mystical new age--rescues him from any attempt to pigeonhole. He starts out light and lyrical before punching up the pace and roaring through a tight, soulful playground based on numerous influences (notably, the driving "Hip Bop.") He romances a "Princess," goes "Dancin' in the Park" and contemplates his heart's yearnings before cranking things up again and "Drivin' Home." Among those along for the day on the playground, kicking up the ensemble action, are labelmate Gregg Karukas, guitarist Mike O'Neill, drummer Joel Taylor and the world class percussion fire of Munyungo Jackson and Efrain Toro. Smooth jazz needed to hear more from him but unfortunately, didn't in the late 90's.

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