Common Ground

Not Enough Space

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Not Enough Space Review

by Alex Henderson

Philadelphia was full of first-rate hard boppers and post-boppers in the 1990s -- everyone from tenor saxman Larry McKenna and trumpeter John Swana to guitarist Jimmy Bruno -- but fusion and pop-jazz were hard to find in that city. One of the best fusion bands playing Philly and southern New Jersey in the late 1990s was Common Ground, which is in good to excellent form on its second album, Not Enough Space. With core members Chris Farr (tenor and soprano sax) and Erik Sayles (guitar) joined by drummer extraordinaire Dennis Chambers, as well as keyboardist Dan Zank and electric bassist James Genus, the sparks fly. Ground's aggressive blend of jazz, rock and funk often brings to mind Scott Henderson & Tribal Tech, and hard-edged numbers like "Drop Zone" and "Scrub" illustrated the fact that fusion still has a lot of possibilities. Fans of improvisatory, creative fusion (as opposed to radio-oriented "crossover" or "jazzy pop") should make a point of searching for this disc.

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