Monday, May 19, 2008

Tom Scott's New Album Redefines "Meh;" Dianne Reeves' New Album Redefines "Blech"

I know, I know; amidst all of the good albums out in recent months, why review two albums that are bound to be terrible? Because, in all honesty, these are the two albums- not "Tragicomic," not "Twilight World," not "History, Mystery-" that are going to sell in troves. And I'm here to tell you that one of them surpassed my expectations by about a hair, and the other one was soul-suckingly bad. So here goes; capsule reviews of Tom Scott's "Cannon Re-Loaded," a tribute to Cannonball Adderley, and Dianne Reeves' "When You Know."

Anyone with youtube knows that Tom Scott can play bop. I'd go so far as to say that anyone with youtube knows that Tom Scott can play bop well (depending on which of those videos you watch, Tom Scott either kills Ernie Watts or is killed by Ernie Watts, but he plays well on both). But when I heard that Tom Scott, the reedman behind smooth-jazz impresarios The LA Express, had an album of Cannonball Adderley tunes coming out, and that bass-slapster and Dave Sanborn partner in crime Marcus Miller was going to play bass, I have to admit I was a bit scared. You know what though? It isn't terrible. That said, it isn't good, either. Occupying some sort of odd nexus between jazz tunes and smoove-jamz, certain songs on "Cannon Re-Loaded" work much better than others. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" grooves without being overly slippery, but "Work Song" suffers from Miller's painful slap bass line. The saving grace of most of the album is George Duke, who by now is probably used to occupying this odd little area, but Terence Blanchard and Tom Scott both play more than adequately for the material. I'd say that if you saw the title and were immediately predisposed to buy it, it's worth it; the playing is good, and it isn't overly smooth. If you saw the title and thought, "hm, Tom Scott, who's that," don't. It isn't very good.

George Duke, who redeems much of "Cannon Re-Loaded" is, as chief producer and arranger, at fault for Dianne Reeves' new album, "When You Know." I say "at fault" because "When You Know" is so bad it will probably cause some listeners- mostly those who got into Dianne Reeves based on the pretty good "Good Night and Good Luck" soundtrack- to have a passionate need to find whoever is responsible for this trash and find a way to make sure they never make anything like it again. There is no point in going into specific tracks, because with the exception of a single track (the very good straight-ahead "Social Call") everything sounds the same; corny, overly-orchestrated retreads of R. Kelly's "Bump N' Grind," as reinvented for the viagra generation. Please don't buy this album. If you do, Diane Reeves will probably think this was a good direction for her. It wasn't.

I don't know what I'm going to review next time. Marc Feldman's reissue? Marcus Miller's new album? "Esperanza?" I guess I'll figure it out then.

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