CD REVIEW: Court Mast - Sausalito Summer
By Dan Cohen - 02/21/2009 - 04:35 PM EST
Artist: BAND: Court Mast
Album: Sausalito Summer
Label: Jazz Vista
Genre: Jazz-Fusion, Ambient, Chill Out
Sounds Like: Al Caiola; Funky Martin Denny; Chuck Mangione in a mellow mood
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 6/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Marling Song; Lonely Sea; West Wind; Highway 1; Tam Junction
Weakness: first song a clunker
If music were housework, you could divide it into two general categories: cooking and cleaning. Cooking music would be just that- music you can cook to. It might include the subtler joys- jazz, classical, the ambient, enya-type stuff as well. Or, I don't know, if you were throwing a few burgers on the grill, maybe Cheap Trick would be just the thing. But I think cleaning music would be where the louder, more aggressive stuff resided-- stuff you could hear over the whine of a vacuum cleaner, or that might motivate you to clean out your basement.
Court Mast's Sausalito Summer is definitely in the cooking category. It's a subtle, west-coast jazz influenced disc with grooves reminiscent at times of the great Lee Morgan. You could mistake it for bland fare (I actually think the first cut is one of the weakest on the album). But you would be wrong. It's a stew of an album, full of subtle flavors that slowly bubble forth. The original compositions aren't daring, but they take familiar tropes and do interesting things with them. The long-limbed lyricism of Marling Song and West Wind contrast nicely with the funky uptempo vibe of Jib Jive and Tam Junction. (Love the swingin sax solo by Scott Peterson in the latter, with quotes from Les McCann's classic 'Cold Duck Time'!).
The production and mixing are first rate, but most important- this is a band that knows what it's doing. Starting with the sweet lyric sound of Mr. Mast's trumpet. His name may bring to mind unsavory goings on on a pirate ship, but his album is all smooth sailing. Start chopping a few onions, invite some friends over, open that bottle of Cab you've been saving, and put this record on. Now you're cooking!
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