Zed — You Are Here
(Tonart 001, 2008, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-10-01
Not to be confused with Bernard Szajner’s dark and ominous band Zed from the late 70s, this Colorado based jazz-rock quartet has a positive outlook and a bright, colorful collection of styles to offer on this, their first full-length release. Their music is composed throughout, but leaving enough room for some inspired improvisational flights by all. The rhythm section of bassist Jeff Smith and drummer Ian Keldin is sharp and precise, and jump out early to grab the listener’s attention as they build a solid foundation for guitarist Scott Cleland’s temperate and tasty jazz chording and fills, and saxophonist Alan Mallery’s expressive and warm, imaginative soloing. Mallery also doubles on keyboards when he’s not in the spotlight, generally adding support to the midranges and taking an occasional solo. When Cleland jumps out for a solo, as he does on many of the disc’s nine cuts, it’s generally a high speed and flashy technical workout, recalling John Goodsall’s best tendencies without the brutal edges. There are a number of outstanding bass solos here and there as well, often when you least expect them. Some pieces drive along in a rock tempo, others swing and bop, one might even detect some Latin rhythms on a track or two, but wherever they go, the spirit of jazz is always closer at hand than rock. And it must be mentioned, the engineering and mixing are top notch. All taken, an excellent opening statement.
Related artist(s): Zed
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