What a lame album title. Good thing it has no bearing on the quality of this outstanding new CD from Pittsburgh native Don Aliquo. Currently a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Aliquo’s music does not reflect his sunny, uncool album cover. The music on the disc is in fact tumultuous, swinging and sophisticated. The band is particularly engaging on its faster tracks. On “This Is New,” a rock-solid rhythm section including bass great Rufus Reid breaks up swing sections with Latin ones. Aliquo’s solo reflects Coltrane in its burning eighth-note lines punctuated with screeching high notes.
The quintet’s treatment of the ballad, “Never Never Land,” shows the tenor player’s adeptness at using a sweeter, subtler tone. Although the sound of the band in the mix is a little too even (that is, everyone is around the same volume), and there may be a little too much reverb. In short, the record sounds unnaturally smooth. Their dynamics are lost in the smooth nature of the recording. With more mellow drums, and a saxophone that isn’t suffering from over-compression, the disc could be out of this world.
The olive-oil smooth nature of Jazz Folk should not prevent you from listening. This group would be great to see live and experience in a more raw setting. It will take a revolution before jazz is being recorded in a way that fuses the technology of the present with the gritty charm of the past.