1. Kalalau Trail
2. Waves of Kalalau
4. Bed of Pines
5. Bird of Beauty
6. Just Wait
8. The Rains
10. Hadgini Journey
11. Balao Todd
Todd Isler - Drums, hand drums, percussion,
Billy Drewes - Tenor sax, soprano sax
Jenny Hill, Allen Won - Tenor saxes
Tom Hubbard - Acoustic bass
Ian James Macdonald, Adam Morrison - Piano
David Phelps - Electric guitar
Kip Reed - Electric bass
Recently somebody wrote to the Guardian
newspaper's "Notes and Queries" section to
pose the question "What is the point of the
drum solo?" My response was threefold:
1. Drum solos can be exciting
(audiences usually applaud them because drums
appeal to our innate feeling for rhythm).
2. The drummer can claim
to be the heartbeat of a band . Imagine the
Benny Goodman Trio without Gene Krupa or the
Who without Keith Moon.
3. Most other musicians get
solos, so the drummer deserves at least one.
As a drummer, I can see the
point of drum solos, but they can become excessive
- and that's what happens on this CD by drummer
Todd Isler. The album intersperses group jazz
outings with Isler's solos on a variety of
percussion instruments. This could be intriguing,
but Todd's solos are unimaginatively repetitive
and show little development or structure.
Using exotic instruments doesn't guarantee
an interesting solo if you merely repeat the
same patterns over and over.
By contrast, the tracks including
other musicians work much better - although
Todd's drumming often stays firmly in the
same jazz-rock mould. The saxists and pianists
play some worthwhile solos, and the originals
(co-written by Isler with Jenny Hill and/or
Adam Morrison) - although hardly memorable
- provide adequate bases for improvisation.
The most successful track is Stevie Wonder's
composition Bird of Beauty, with a
nice theme statement and solo from Billy Drewes'
soprano sax and a fine piano solo by Ian James
This album could have been
a stimulating mix of jazz and varied percussion,
but the drum solos are too unvaried to hold