Donald Harrison plays quite well throughout this set, displaying a distinctive tone and a consistently creative style within the genre of straight-ahead jazz. All but the last two selections feature him accompanied by bassist Vicente Archer and drummer John Lamkin, both of whom stay very much in the background, often playing repetitive and somewhat dull figures. Pianist Glenn Patscha is on three numbers without making an impression, while the final two songs have Harrison joined by Ron Carter and Billy Cobham.
On his second album for Impulse!, recorded August 18-September 24, 1998, Donald Harrison continues to proselytize for what he called "nouveau swing" on his first date for the label, even going so far as to sing/rap an explanation of his concept in "Nouveau Swing (Reprise)." Essentially, what he seems to mean by the term is that, within an acoustic quartet setting, he intends to introduce elements of a number of musical genres, for example covering the Meters' funk anthem "Cissy Strut" and having drummer John Lamkin use a reggae feel for "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," the Sigmund Romberg standard he previously recorded on For Art's Sake.
Band of Bees second album Free the Bees is a rollicking, breathtaking romp through the '60s, calling to mind classic band after classic band but also conjuring up a modern and original sound of their own. "These Are the Ghosts," the CD's opening track, gives us echoes of the psychedelic-era Small Faces, the Kinks circa Village Green Preservation Society, and even, at times, Pink Floyd circa Piper at the Gates of Dawn. There are moments on "No Atmosphere" where they sound like the Small Faces quoting the Beatles obliquely from Rubber Soul, and elsewhere it suddenly sounds as though the ghost of George Harrison has stepped into the studio to throw in some licks from a White Album jam. And incidentally, the studio in question where this album was cut was, indeed, EMI Studio No. 2, the very same that the Beatles used, so the Bees re-creating elements of the Beatles' sound is no accident. "Chicken Payback" sounds like some discovery from the vaults of Stax Records, except that it's not – it's an original, and it is original, and could pass for some 40-year-old Northern soul discovery. "The Russian" comes off like a piece of soundtrack music in search of a movie, circa Blow-Up, like for a chiller (The Deadly Bees, perhaps?) or spy picture where the producers couldn't afford John Barry.
When one thinks about progressive rock, it's easy to imagine it as an almost academic pursuit with groups of men, armed with degrees in composition and Chapman sticks, trying to convert the secret math that rules the universe into musical notation. Playing against this seeming lack of approachability, Cynic deliver Kindly Bent to Free Us, an album that, while most definitely in the realm of prog rock, has the kind of open, unpretentious air that makes Rush such an easy-to-love band. Though Cynic continue to stray further from their heavy metal beginnings, they still haven't abandoned them, fusing layers of melody and jazzy chord progressions with searing, distorted guitar work, perfectly combining both sounds without letting one distract from the other…
Incredible 43-track collection features "Broad Daylight", "Fire and Water", "My Brother Jake", "All Right Now", "Little Bit Of Love", "The Stealer", "I'll Be Creeping" and more favourites! Free were an English rock band formed in London in 1968, best known for their 1970 signature song "All Right Now". They disbanded in 1973 and lead singer Paul Rodgers went on to become a frontman of the band Bad Company along with Simon Kirke on drums. Lead guitarist Paul Kossoff formed Back Street Crawler in 1975, but died from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 25 in 1976. Bassist Andy Fraser formed Sharks. The band became famed for their sensational live shows and nonstop touring. However, early studio albums did not sell very well until the release of Fire and Water, which featured the massive hit "All Right Now". The song helped secure them a place at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970, where they played to 600,000 people.
The frustrating thing about smooth jazz isn't an absence of talent or chops; actually, there are plenty of smooth jazz musicians who have chops galore even though their studio recordings don't reflect that. At smooth jazz concerts, it isn't hard to find artists who take a lot more chances on-stage than they do in the studio. But taking chances in the studio isn't conducive to airplay on commercial smooth jazz/NAC radio stations, which is why so many generic, unimaginative smooth jazz recordings have been flooding the market since the 1980s. Walter Beasley has certainly given listeners plenty of generic, unimaginative recordings over the years, but not everything he records is without merit – and Free Your Mind does have its moments.