Sunday, September 27, 2009

Benny Reid - Escaping Shadows (Concord, 2009)

This album marks young alto saxophonist Benny Reid’s second album for the Concord label. Growing up in Central New Jersey he became interested in jazz early on then attended university to study music. Influenced by the likes of Stan Getz and Pat Metheny, accessibility and melody are the musical attributes that Reid is striving for. The Pat Metheny group is really a touchstone that the group is going toward during most of the session, using the wordless vocals of Jeff Taylor as a foil for Reid to play off against echoes Metheny’s strategy during his early group recordings on ECM. Rounding out the band are Richard Padrón on guitar, Ryan Fitch on percussion, Pablo Vergara on piano, Daniel Loomis on bass and Kenny Grohowski on drums. A glossy synth groove opens “Facing the Edge” with Reid harmonizing along, developing and almost melancholy cast before the music takes an abrupt turnat the 3:00 mark developing a much heavier sound and a near rocking tinge from electric guitar and drums. “New Days” opens with some mild saxophone before increasing the pace and adding some complicated and fast rhythm. Appropriately, the group includes a Metheny cover, “Always and Forever” a patient and thoughtful performance for guitar and saxophone. While I think that the musicians performing here are quite talented and I bear them no ill will, I must say that this really wasn’t my thing. I found the music to be unchallenging and drifting at times toward the smooth side. I found the music to be a little overproduced, with a glossy studio sheen present throughout most of the tracks. That said, if you are a fan of the early Metheny group recordings, and you are looking for something along the same lines, this may well be to your liking.
Escaping Shadows -

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