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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


DAN FORSHAW & CHRIS SMITH

Message

4shaw Music

(available through www.danforshaw.com)

 



1. OK, What Goin On
2. Revolve, Not Evolve
3. Message
4. Native Passion
5. Synchronisation
6. Loco Transfer
7. Discreet
8. Calling Out
9. GMT
10. Solid States
Dan Forshaw - Alto, tenor and soprano saxes
Chris Smith - Trumpet, valved-trombone, bass guitar, keyboards, programming

As a drummer, I am not naturally enamoured of drum machines but synthesisers and computer programming are sufficiently established in jazz for us to take them on their merits. This collaboration between a saxophonist and a multi-instrumentalist (who is also a programmer) depends heavily on programming to supply the backing for the sax, trumpet and trombone. The main trouble is that the backing too often becomes obtrusive – swamping the front-line instruments, which seem to be merely doodling on top of the pervasive rhythm.

The other trouble is that the programmed rhythm is often out-of-synch with the bass guitar or the other instruments. The sleeve-note refers to "computer-based production with live instruments blended into the mix" but a blend is not always achieved. On the title-track, for instance, the rhythm fails to cohere with the tenor sax, so the tune limps along rather than swinging. The most successful track is the well-named Discreet, where the soprano sax is allowed to glide above a discreet backing, rather in the rhapsodic style of Kenny G.

Dan Forshaw and Chris Smith are clearly talented musicians but they should rely less on the artificial aids. This album leaves me echoing the Musicians’ Union slogan: "Keep Music Live".


Tony Augarde



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