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The Zone

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Album Review

While the fervor of the acid jazz craze has long since chilled, a few bands pursue the funky jazz muse that powered it. New York City-based Topaz is one of those who continue to delve into the genre's intricacies, with passion and nimble chops. On their third album, The Zone, tenor sax player Topaz and his bandmates turn their sights toward the more soulful areas of the genre, mixing funky grooves with smooth arrangements. The Zone reaches such heights of cool that you almost believe you're sitting in a red velvet-draped lounge, highball in hand, cooing sweet nothings into the ear of your prospective mate. Though the band is named after Topaz, he generally lets his bandmates steer the music. Ethan White's electric piano drives a percussive melody on "Minha Mente" and provides a solid lead in almost all the songs; Mark "Tewar" Tewarson's guitar noodles front "Walkabout," which has a darker vibe than most of the album's upbeat tunes. Trombone player Squantch really impresses with his range of hot and cool emotion on "I Can See It in You," laying down some nasty blues tones. But the highest praise for the band is that the deft layering of each instrument in the arrangements makes it difficult to determine who is leading on any song. Each voice sounds integral to the whole groove machine. The lone jarring note on the record comes from the vocals: Topaz opts for highly repetitive lyrics that are often chanted more than sung. While you get used to them after a while, they get in the way a bit too much. Topaz has plenty of beautiful instrumental voices here; they didn't need to add another.

Customer Reviews

Jazz at its finest

I am a regular attendee of topaz's thursday night shows in austin and i must express my deep love for the groove

Tasty Album

Topaz himself has some amazing credentials, and as it turns out, put out a solid album with this shot. Every song on here deserves recognition of some sort, but all deserve an A+ solid groove award. Pleasure music at it's best, 'The Zone' delivers for funk and groove jazz fans. It's a definite must-have in every funk jazzer's collection. Topaz is only a meteocre improvizationalist, and the listener might often wonder what's going on in that department, but yet, even some of the low moments in improvization blend with the sound and style that he's apparently shooting for. There is never an awkward moment, and your foot never stops tapping, and your head never stops jiving. This is one of those albums that you can press play and not have to shuffle through the tracks, because they're all deliciously dripping with goodness. "The Zone" is an instant classic.


i used to be tutored by topaz with tenor sax, and all i can say is wow. he's a great saxophonist and, along with his band, deliver and great smooth tone in The Zone.


Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

It all started for Topaz McGarrigle on 6th Street, the epicenter for musical activity in his hometown of Austin, TX. Performing on his tenor saxophone for tips from passersby, he reached to the limits of his musical vocabulary to pursue his hopeful dreams of becoming a jazz musician in New York City. His musical identity began to take shape in the muscular twists and turns of his phrasing, in his cool, soulful feeling and in his grooving rhythmic energy. Topaz, his jazz group, formed in 1997 in New...
Full Bio
The Zone, Topaz
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Customer Ratings