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


Soul Drums

Takadimi Tunes (no number)




1. Kalalau Trail
2. Waves of Kalalau
3. Tiptoe
4. Bed of Pines
5. Bird of Beauty
6. Just Wait
7. Kyerematen
8. The Rains
9. Olinda
10. Hadgini Journey
11. Balao Todd
12. Badia

Todd Isler - Drums, hand drums, percussion, voice
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 Macdonald.

This album could have been a stimulating mix of jazz and varied percussion, but the drum solos are too unvaried to hold one's attention.

Tony Augarde






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