Erik Satie's music is timeless and beautiful, but can it stand up to interpretation by downtown New York jazzbos? In the hands of Dan Willis & Velvet Gentlemen the answer is a resounding "YES!" Willis' arrangements are as brilliant as they are varied. There are some straightforward readings (as on most of the Nocturnes) right alongside some pretty inventive and even daring ones. Second Gymnopedie starts as an accordion-sax-drums trio, then slides almost imperceptibly to a guitar-trumpet-drums trio. John Hollenbeck's alway engaging drumwork ties it all together, but the really amazing thing is how much the tune now resembles Miles Davis' "All Blues!"
If sunny front porches remind you of Bruce Willis' bluesy late-'80s turn towards wine cooler jingles, then this installment of the Universal Masters is a must-buy. It includes 1987's Return of Bruno in its entirety, and highlights from the 1989 follow-up If It Don't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger. There are also a few neither here nor there tracks, like a ridiculous "Extended 12" Version" of "Respect Yourself."
Gary Willis, one of the world’s leading bassists, has delivered his fifth album Larger Than Life—a delicious collection of fusion-funk for the twenty-first century. Joining Willis on this set of twelve tracks are Gergo Borlai on drums, long-time Tribal Tech band mate Scott Kinsey on keyboards, Steve Tavaglione on saxes and EWI, Claudia Bardagi on voice and Llibert Fortuny on tenor sax and voice.