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Step 7

Gary Meek

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Album Review

The multi-saxman and flutist is one of the great underrated reedsman of his generation, having put out a multitude of strong solo projects but always better known for his all-star associations. One of the longest of these is with Brazilian greats Airto Moreira (drums, percussion) and vocalist Flora Purim, and Meek introduces listeners to this incredibly energetic and diverse disc with the joyful, multi-movement, swinging jazz samba jam "Step 7." He starts out light and whimsical, his flute fluttering happily over a playful rolling groove and Purim's lovely scatting. He switches to the sax midway through and the piece explodes into a funky jazz party. "When Love Appears" is a lush, laid-back samba featuring Meek's soprano's gentle interaction with José Neto's sweet acoustic guitar. His choice of Chick Corea's expansive "Time's Lie" reveals an artist whose commitment to artistic challenge and depth is more important than just providing something sweet for the ears. His soprano musings at the start act as an introduction to a beautiful center section with Purim's voice at its romantic best. Christian Jacob's lush piano solo becomes a more percussive affair, leading Meek back into the action with various soprano moods. Most of the other tunes are a little more focused on one vibe, from the feisty blues swing of "Toby's Blues" to the seductive "Waltz for Mo." His cover of "Harlem Nocturne" is an incredible big band treat, emphasis on "big." His romp through Charlie Parker's "Be-Bop" completes the wonderfully diverse craziness that somehow comes together to engage like few modern sax players can.

Step 7, Gary Meek
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