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Album Review

After the release of Rare Blend's self-titled EP, the band added well over 25 minutes worth of new tunes. It seems they also dropped a slow tune, "Isabella," this release. Rare Blend is Vic Samalot on guitar, Bobbi Holt on keys, Jeff Scott on bass, Paul Stranahan on drums, and Tom Doggett guesting on sax. This is guitar-driven, jazzy, funked-up, fusiony jam music. Samalot stretches amply, and many of the compositions are primarily written by him. The occasional synth or bass lead filler improv pops up here and there. The strongest cuts are "Blue Samba," "Z'hadum," "Blue Diamond," "Funky Ovulation Shuffle," and "Kitchen Cinque." You will hear Santana and the little-known Alphonse Mouzon/Lee Ritenour/Tommy Bolin project Mind Transplant on portions of the above. Funk undercurrents are strong, along with rock drive and full jazz sensitivities, in Rare Blend. If more fusion-fired unison lines (bassist Scott knows the formula) and widely variant time signatures — and less boogie-down grooves — are used in this group's future releases, Rare Blend might even echo such acclaimed jazz fusionists as Tribal Tech, Five After Four, and F-5. There is very strong potential in Rare Blend. Notably, "Time Upon a Time" should really wow listeners during the piece's first three minutes with its unique compositional voice, but thereafter, the group falls back into bland lounge jazz standards for the duration. Avoidance of been-there-done-that jazzy breaks and groove-a-thons will only serve to better Rare Blend. "Comfortable jamming territory" for a musician tends to lose listener interest rapidly. Being good at the expected is laudable but not excellent. But overall, Rare Blend's Infinity is a decent CD, outdoing the band's earlier EP. ~ John W. Patterson, Rovi

Infinity, Rare Blend
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