May 20, 2010

Rare Blend-Sessions Review

Let me start by saying that Rare Blend’s Sessions album has grooves on it that are so tasty they should be marketed by Duncan Hines. Hailing from Cleveland Ohio, Rare Blend is a Progressive music band that, though only containing four members, has more elements in it than a high school periodic table.  The music they produce is a thick tapestry of grooves that at times it reminds me of Miles Davis’ legendary album Bitches Brew. Like that album, the grooves on Sessions are amazing but they take on so many other shapes and influences that to say this is just another progressive jazz/rock fusion recording would be a horrible miscalculation.

Sessions is a collection of live recordings from the stage and their brand of one take improvisational studio recordings.  The band is so tight musically that it is nearly impossible to tell when they are live in front of an audience and when they are in the studio.  Of the 14 songs on Sessions, eight are live with four of those being from Rare Blend’s “Bridging the Gap” music/film performances.  On the “Bridging the Gap” performances, they put live music to a silent movie with examples on this album from Metropolis and Phantom of the Opera.

The music is kept focused and in control by the powerhouse tag team of a rhythm section made up of the drums and bass guitar. To call the drummer, Ivan George, and the bass player, Jeffery Scott, the back bone of this band is not saying enough.  The two of them plant a rhythm section so strong it might as well be the roots of a giant sequoia tree with the guitar and keyboards, played by Vic Samalot and Bobbi Holt, being the leaves and flowers that draw your attention in for a closer look.  After listen to the aptly named “The TimeKeeper”, one has to wonder if George and Scott aren’t somehow made by Rolex.  Their time keeping on the entire album is flawless and even on the live song “Market Square”, which has a time phrase that resembles the Salvador Dali painting “The Persistence of Memory”, they never miss a beat.

Rare Blend uses progressive rock and jazz as their paintbrushes to create beautifully colored sound scapes that wrap you up and carry your mind away.   “March to Orion”, the second live song on Sessions, brings to mind what it would sound like if the legendary Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey was actually about a progressive rock band with a super computer named HAL.  I can almost hear HAL saying in that all too calm voice, “Do you like my tasty groove Dave?”  To which Dave could only reply, “Right on!”  The spaced out groove takes you to the stars on a ride you won’t soon forget.

Rare Blend’s Sessions, offers listeners a chance to be swept away into some rare grooves that are tighter than a size 5 shoe on Bigfoot and more intricate than a painting on the head of a needle. 

5/5 stars

Key Tracks- March to Orion, Market Square, The Timekeeper

Doug Morrissey-May 20, 2010

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