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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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MARK EGAN

Truth Be Told

BHM Productions BHM 1043-2

 

 


1. Frog Legs
2. Gargoyle
3. Truth Be Told
4. Sea Saw
5. Café Risque
6. Shadow Play
7. Blue Launch
8. Rhyme or Reason
9. Blue Rain
10. Pepé
11. After Thought

Mark Egan - Fretted bass, fretless bass
Bill Evans - Saxes
Mitch Forman - Keyboards
Vinnie Colaiuta - Drums
Roger Squitero - Percussion

 

Who said that jazz-rock was dead? Nowadays, if people dare to mention it at all, they tend to call it jazz-fusion but, whatever name you give it, it is still very much alive, as this CD proves. As well as the ordinary bass guitar, Mark Egan plays the fretless bass, which has somehow fallen out of fashion, but Mark studied with the master, Jaco Pastorius. Egan made his name in groups led by Pat Metheny, Gil Evans, Airto Moreira and others, as well as leading his own bands.

Egan's sturdy bass is at the heart of the album, and he contributes a lucid solo to the first number, Frog Legs, which also contains soaring soprano sax from Bill Evans and an inspiring solo from pianist Mitch Forman (who was Mitchel when he first impressed me with his album What Else? in 1992). Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta lays down a typically rocky fusion beat, blending with Mark Egan's bass to provide a solid foundation.

Forman is featured on electronic keyboards in Gargoyle, which is reminiscent of Chick Corea's later groups, with punchy rhythm beneath a tuneful melody. Bill Evans solos well on whirling tenor sax. The title-track is another Corea-style mix of bite and tunefulness.

Other particularly notable tracks include Café Risque, which shows the Pastorius legacy in Mark Egan's bass (and Weather Report's influence on the whole group) and Forman's composition Shadow Play, where Egan states the melody and improvises on it. Rhyme or Reason has galvanizing fills from Colaiuta's drums, which duet thrillingly with Evans's tenor. For much of the track, Mark Egan plays what seems like a continuous bass solo, keeping the rhythm fluid.

The album ends with the Indian-influenced After Thought, with the band supplying the fusion equivalent of tabla and sitar. Mark Egan's abilities are demonstrated not only by his consistently strong bass playing but also by the fact that he composed all but two of the tunes. This is intelligent jazz-fusion which has brains as well as beat. And the recording is as clear as day.

Tony Augarde



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