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Revolutions (With Vince Mendoza & The Metropole Orchestra)

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Album Review

Jim Beard's reputation as the electric keyboardist for Michael Brecker is his most prominent credit of many others that have for the most part been ignored. This excellent recording with two different editions (2005 and 2007) of the Metropole Orchestra and special guest soloists should elevate his cache exponentially, as a composer, performer, and colorist of the highest order. Collaborating with arranger and conductor Vince Mendoza, Beard plays mostly acoustic piano, a little synthesizer, and Fender Rhodes with the acclaimed horns and strings of the premier European big band that has primarily backed singers in past years. This material has been issued previously on Beard's studio albums, but here they enjoy new treatments and arrangements. The title and its relation to the cover art of a carousel relates directly to the revolving themes heard, not the aspect of this music being revolutionary. Still, as these are updates and expansions of Beard's previously produced music, you do hear echoes of Seventh Avenue New York City contemporary jazz, majestic classical and ethnic elements welded onto more subtle adaptations that, combined, signal a much wider expansion of Beard's initial concepts. Dr. John meets Henry Mancini meets the Brecker Brothers on the light strut opener "Holiday for Pete & Gladys," with tenor saxophonist Bob Malach a perfect choice as the lead voice. More on the model's catwalk, "Princess" is a staccato-sexy walk in neo-bop mode with Latin trim, a subtle six-beat regal tango with fluttery flute and strident piano identifies "Crossing Troll Bridge," and the soprano sax of Bill Evans buoys an industrial feel, a Baroque section, and funky repose on "Parsley Trees." The more orchestral pieces, "Hope" and "Diana," are as positive and lovely as their titles, the former stringy with a staggered march rhythm underneath steely guitar and Beard's synthesizer, the latter a pretty tune with small Brecker-like phrases and the Fender Rhodes of the leader. Two tracks are quite ethereal, as oboe, strings, and Beard's piano move through two beat and 6/8 time on "In All Her Finery," while the self-explanatory "Holodeck Waltz" is clearly an ode to Star Trek: The Next Generation with its mysterious, fantasized echoes and lucid dream sequences. Beard and his collaborators have not only played this music pristinely, but programmed it to the point where a greater story is told, demanding you listen from start to finish. This is a recording of outstanding resolve, deserving wider recognition for the exceptional talents of Jim Beard and all the musicians on board. Simply put, these sounds are irresistible if you enjoy the basics of melody, harmony, and rhythm without the constraints of traditional jazz. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: United States

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Fusion bandleader Jim Beard assembled plenty of major-level talent for his 1990 album Song of the Sun, notably Wayne Shorter, Michael...
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Revolutions (With Vince Mendoza & The Metropole Orchestra), Jim Beard
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