Of late, modern jazz has fallen on hard times – just like the rest of us. While mediocrity rules the airwaves, the work of America’s musical royalty is relegated to the elevator, the dentist chair and the on-hold line. Sad commentary, but like most clouds, this one comes with a silver lining. If tough times thin out the herd, they also leave us the musicians with the conviction to make art for art’s sake.
Nowhere does that conviction come across more clearly than in the music of the Bill Tiberio Band. On his latest release Brothers, Tiberio’s soulful lyricism is the tie that binds the otherwise eclectic elements present on the CD. A band this versatile could force lesser musicians into an identity crisis. Here’s what he is up against, “Watching the River Flow” sounds like it was recorded by Ray Charles’ band but the original tune, “Papa” sounds more like “Return to Forever.” Through it all, Tiberio is unflappable as ever and calmly lays it down to the delight of this critic.
All of the band’s original tunes were composed by Scott Bradley, a gifted but relatively unknown composer whose work cries out to be heard by a wider audience. Simply put, the songwriting on this CD is second to none. It is an escape from the confines of ones daily routine, a trip to the moon on gossamer wings, a floating sensation not unlike being in love. Harmonically complex and yet easy to hum along to, these songs will stick with you and pop up in your head when you think you have forgotten them.
Like all bands, this group travels on its rhythm section: the down-to-earth bass of Geoff Smith and Phil Lake on drums. Lake’s drumming is at all times a highlight but his solo on “The Chosen Spot” is a show stealer. If I have one complaint to make of this recording it is the drums could be further forward in the mix of things, not only in terms of recording techniques but in solo space. Mr. Lake may well be this band’s MVP. Joe Chiappone’s stellar guitar rounds out the ensemble.
I will be anxious to hear the band’s next recording scheduled for release in 2012 and recommend Mr. Tiberio and his band to all of you.