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Earth and Sky

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Album Review

After two albums exploring the boundaries of jazz via the music of Thelonious Monk (Green Chimneys) and Charles Mingus (Peggy's Blue Skylight), ex-Police guitarist Andy Summers returns to original compositions with a new band that moves forward through a swarm of genres on Earth + Sky. Employing two keyboard players, John Novello and John Beasley, as well as drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, saxophonist Katisse Buckingham, and bassist Abraham Laboriel, Summers creates a body of work that looks through jazz, rock, and folk forms and is technology based while also using organic rhythms and atmospherics. While some might see this as retrenchment, Summers, unlike so many of the superchopper guitarists out there, is a melodist whose lyricism is inescapable in virtually everything he plays. Hence the effect of these tunes is chimeric, whether they begin with gorgeous, simple harmonic lines that are reminiscent of nursery rhymes (such as "Now I'm Free"), feature complex hypnotic guitar lines that are fully charged both modally and rhythmically (as in the title track), or are atmospheric pieces that could be serial selections in a film noir soundtrack (such as "I Choose You"). Summers has utilized his jazz chops to stunning effect here, in that he allows his guitar to be an architectural focal point of an ensemble rather than as the centerpiece of the music itself. Hence, whether he is engaging the trappings of fusion or acoustic balladry ("Roseville"), he weaves something complex, soulful, and memorable from the elements. Earth + Sky is another solid effort from a guitarist who is forever reinventing himself.


Born: December 31, 1942 in Lancashire, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

While Andy Summers is best known as the guitarist of the Police, he has since forged a successful and acclaimed solo career with new age-influenced contemporary instrumental music that, like his work with Sting and company, draws on his love for jazz and his fascination with creating instrumental textures. Born Andrew James Somers in Poulton-Fylde, Lancashire, England, on December 31, 1942, the young Somers (who later changed his surname to the more easily spelled Summers) moved to Bournemouth as...
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Earth and Sky, Andy Summers
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