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CD REVIEW: Karl Young - Lost in the Woods
By Cyrus Rhodes - 11/09/2011 - 12:59 AM EST

Artist: Karl Young
Album: Lost in the Woods
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic jazz
Sounds Like: Miles Davis, Herbie Mann, Bobbi Humphrey
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Infant Eyes, Forest Flower, Murasaki Muaraiki
Weakness: None
CD Review:

Karl Young is a former saxophonist who switched over to a fascinating wind instrument called the Shakuhachi. For those of you who don’t know the Shakuhachi is a Japanese end blown bamboo flute originally played by monks and later in classical ensemble music. You may remember elite players such as Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd and even Herbie Hancock playing it. Now via his latest release “Lost in Wood” (2011) Young plays the Shakuhachi and is backed by 8 top flight jazz players and the production virtuoso of Mad Duran.   

The CD gently takes to flight with “Dolphin Dance” a soothing yet methodical intro piece that flows and ebbs its way through to musical fruition. This first piece offers quite allot and serves up impressive Marimba, Saxophone and percussive against a backdrop of stand-up bass, flugelhorn and Shakuhachi. The CD makes a great first impression and literally grabs our attention with its passionate musical flow. Track 2 “Wayfaring Stranger” keeps things moving in the woodwind direction with a more solitary eastern melody. Track 3 “Invitation” is a dynamic piece that serves up smooth flowing bass chops, against mesmerizing Shakuhachi, impressive xylophone and percussion. The CD makes a great first impression providing 3 amazing musical experiences in a row. Musical textures reminiscent of classic Herbie Mann, Bobbi Humphrey and even Miles Davis. Despite this it’s quite amazing how original Young’s signature sound is. It is something that goes beyond traditional pigeonholing. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice an amazing blend of traditional jazz built upon an impressive foundation of windwood instrumentation. All songs are dynamic and passionate in nature with crystal clear hi end clarity and solid low end feel. The music itself goes down smooth and fills the sonic space with what I would describe as peaceful tranquility. The musicianship though conservative provides a lot of musical variety. All in all the CD has some truly impressive moments showcasing world class musicianship from 8 top tiered players. Instruments include Piano, Stand-up Bass, Flugelhorn, Alto Flute, Koto, Stand-up bass, Percussion and Marimba. Make no bones about it, these cats can play. My hats off to the amazing percussion tandems of Raul Ramirez and Vince Delgado. What’s even more impressive is how well all these players share the sonic space equally. I was entertained the entire time and I can say this is the first jazz band I’ve ever heard with a Shakuhachi in the line-up. Since were on the subject Young’s playing is impressive and rich with passion and melodic spiritualism. It’s obvious Young’s talent and virtuoso just makes the whole thing work.  From mesmerizing “Infant Eyes” to grooving “Forest Flower” and Sue’s Blues” to tranquil “Polkadots and Moonbeams” and Lupinus Langorious” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 12 “Yamagoe” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.

After spending some time with Karl Young and company it's hard to find any solid weaknesses worth mentioning. Instead as the CD progressed I became more and more impressed with the production as a whole.  It’s an impressive musical production from start to finish and there isn’t really a weak song on this entire catalog. The musicianship is first rate, the songs are consistent and passionate. Each piece possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Lastly - the playing and writing abilities of the Karl Young are company both amazing & will keep you fully entertained. How do you judge a bottle of wine? Ultimately it’s how t makes you feel. The same can be said about “Lost in the Wood” Its musical exuberance at its finest.

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