Jeff Richman

Sand Dance

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The only problem with creating an adventurous fusion jam album that flies in the face of the smooth jazz safety net is that sometimes, exciting playing takes precedence over memorable tunecrafting; Jeff Richman could use a little of Darren's facility with sharp, to the point melodic statements. The recording of the electric guitarist's Sand Dance would probably have been fun to watch; Richman, bassist Dean Taba, drummer Joel Taylor, and EWI ace Judd Miller seem to be having a grand old time playing off each other's cues, soloing with abandon and shifting dynamics and tempos. There are spacy, noodling trio-based pieces ("2025"), raucous funk-rockers that break in the middle for moody meditation ("Bamboo Man"), and a sweet little reflective take on "One Hand, One Heart" from West Side Story. Richman himself seems intent on discovering every sonic possibility for his instrument -- "Ashes to Ashes" features crying, echoing long notes, "Bamboo Man" features a trickling water effect, and "Bohemia" is all distorted rock electricity. A blast? Sure, but more in the sense of great musicians coming together for a big party. Lots of spirit, just not enough melodically to take with you when you leave.

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