Don Grolnick was a busy session pianist/keyboardist who played on many kinds of dates, including jazz fusion and pop. But for a brief period in the late 1980s and early '90s, he detoured into playing post-bop. Weaver of Dreams was the first of his two CDs for Blue Note, featuring an all-star septet including the Brecker Brothers, Bob Mintzer, Dave Holland, Peter Erskine, and Barry Rogers.
For Now You See It…Now You Don't, Michael Brecker's third recording as a leader, the tenor great used different personnel on most of the selections but played consistently well. Jim Beard's synthesizers were utilized for atmosphere, to set up a funky groove, or to provide a backdrop for the leader. Some of the music sounds like updated John Coltrane (Joey Calderazzo's McCoy Tyner-influenced piano helps), while other pieces could almost pass for Weather Report, if Wayne Shorter rather than Joe Zawinul had been the lead voice. Most of the originals (either by Brecker, Beard, or producer Don Grolnick) project moods rather than feature strong melodies, but Michael Brecker's often-raging tenor makes the most of each opportunity.
Michael Brecker’s incredibly assured debut as a leader is a hard act to follow, but Don’t Try This at Home (issued on the Impulse label) is a worthy followup. As before, Brecker achieves an artful balance of complex songforms/orchestrations and fiery soloing. This date definitely stands up to repeated listening. Although the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) is not the equal of a saxophone in terms of expressiveness, Brecker continues to find appropriate uses for it on Don’t Try This at Home.
This 1977 effort continues their hitmaking streak of one of fusion and R&B's durable and respected units. While this album's predecessor, Back to Back, was credited to the Brecker Brothers Band and featured members including David Sanborn and Steve Khan, it came off as underdone and facile. Don't Stop the Music does present their gifts in a more cogent fashion, but not without a few odd detours.
Charming and romantic fit the description of Gato Barbieri and the work he presents here, the album Ruby, Ruby. The production of the record, mastered and engineered handsomely by Herb Alpert, is very lush and beautiful to a lasting degree. Barbieri turns his first song, "Ruby," from an early-on haunting love ballad to an appealing and gripping all-out Latin jam session. This theme happens to find itself playing roles several times over throughout the record. The musicianship explored is captivating and adventurous, taking the listener on a passionate journey to whatever part of the soul he or she wishes to find or dares to pursue.
One of John Scofield's finest mid-1980s outings as a leader, STILL WARM finds the revered jazz guitarist settling into a set of funk-tinged fusion. The tight yet adventurous rhythm section of bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Omar Hakim allows Scofield to unfurl his impressively agile six-string lines, which can stray into rock and blues territory. Keyboardist Don Grolnick adds unexpected, sometimes downright strange textures to the compositions, reining in his quirky flourishes to wonderful effect on the delicately beautiful title track.