Hopefully you have not over looked this spring release of these smooth jazz veterans from Colorado. These seventeen cuts are a mixture of old school and tight new sounds. Led by the penmanship of keyboardist/bassist/guitarist Kip Kuepper, the music is quietly refreshing with tight riffs that will have you bopping right away.
“That’s Just The Way It Is” grabs you with hard thumping bass in the intro giving way to some catchy sax from front man Steve Watts. He turns up the heat and brings in brother David on guitar for some good overlay. There’s a lot going on here and the layers will catch your ear by surprise. The hook is set from the very beginning on “Green Lantern” and you’ll be humming it before you get very far in to it. This is a fun one that I think you’ll enjoy right from the start. The 44 second “Kansas Ballet Song” is a nice layered progression that takes you into the tight beginning of “Himalayan Express #9.” This one you’ll want to get on board with early as it is a showcase for the whole band as they come back from their respected solos with a tight groove that reminds me of some early Weather Report cuts. “Autumn’s Promise” slows down the pace and allows Watts’ sax to shine with some heartfelt sax that is a big contrast from the previous cuts.
“Bi-Dop-Dot” takes the guys back to the same syncopated riffs that we enjoyed earlier. The piano takes center stage here for some nice solo work that adds voices for a good layering before returning. Once again, the layers here are impressive along with what they bring to the recording’s setting in each measure. They kick it up a little in “Same Page, Different Books” which is lead by Watts sax once more. “Piece of Cake” allows his soprano to shine as they slow it down a bit once again followed by a snappy little number I like a lot called “Devil’s Den.” This is one you’ll enjoy a lot and is well written with a catchy phrasing from the band.
Interludes of previous songs make this whole project interesting as they come back and revisit some of the other cuts. It just gives a little more emphasis to the ones you heard earlier. A nice surprise is the Chicago classic, “25 or 6 to 4” along with the U2 hit “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Add all this together and I think you’re in for quiet a “story.” These veterans have put their work in, and in shows on this one. Be sure to pick up a copy soon.