Understated and cool, with catchy grooves and flowing melodies is how I would describe the third solo CD from bassist, David Hughes. Known mostly for being a part of David Benoit’s trio, David continues to wow his fans with his incredible writing and arranging, and his latest offering, Cruising Along, just proves to us that this is one mighty talented musician, on so many levels. Cruising Along brings us ten original compositions and guest appearances with notables such as sax man Andy Suzuki and, drummer and fellow trio partner, Jamey Tate. What I have always enjoyed about David’s CDs is that, while he is a bass player, his CDs are not “all about the bass.” He brings us music where the lead instrument can be anything from the piano to guitar to flute. The joy is in the creation and the writing.
The CD starts off with the title track. This is definitely one of my favorites. It’s really catchy and melodic and perfect for a long drive. The electric guitar solo and the piano grooves are beautiful. “Disco” takes you back to those days of fast-paced funky and fun tunes, but not in a “Stayin’ Alive” kind of way. This is much more melodic, but still makes you want to get up and move. Again, the piano leads the way with beautiful background vibes provided by David’s bass and the drumming by Magnus Fritz.
“Easy Phunk” is electric guitar all the way! John Depatie provides the funky guitar backed up by deep bass lines and a subtle piano. What I like about this one is again the understated “phunk!!” It’s not an in your face guitar piece with loud, blaring riffs. It continues the melodic theme of the CD. Another favorite for me is “Family Time.” It’s peaceful piano melody and fantastic sax solo by Andy Suzuki just warms your heart and stirs your soul. “Hear Now” goes back to the funk setting of the CD. With its cool keyboards, bass line, and drum beat, it’s definitely one to crank up while cruising along!!
Knowing the affinity that David has for everything Asian, “Nagoya” expresses the personality of this bassist. It’s a fun piece with a playful flute played masterfully by Andy Suzuki. Nate Tschetter provides a fantastic piano lead and solo with a touch of Asian melody thrown in. “May the Funk Be With You” perplexed me with its title. It’s, again, a piano driven track with a gentle flute thrown in alongside some nice guitar lines. With this title, I was gearing up for an all out funk fest, but instead got another cool, catchy, melody-driven song to paint the Cruising Along picture. “Pantoja” brings Rique Pantoja to the piano bench with a frisky tune that keeps your head bopping and your feet tapping, while Jamey Tate keeps the pace moving with his skills on the drums. “Pretty Face” is a great guitar/piano track, again with Jamey on drums and Andy Suzuki on the flute. Closing out the CD is “Sunday,” a great title to this tune, which brings you home after cruising along through this album. Featuring a terrific keyboard melody, backed up by David’s bass and Jamey’s drums, and carried along with the sound of strings, it rounds out this CD in a beautiful way.
As said before, David Hughes may be a bass player, but his music is about the music, not the instrument. His writing is terrific and his arrangements make you definitely feel the mood he is trying to express throughout. Aptly titled, Cruising Along is the perfect companion on a drive through any setting.