5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An intelligent step along,
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This review is from: Blue Bolero (Audio CD)
I sampled this before it was released and, from what I heard, liked it straight off. Now it's here I like it even more. This time out Chris has used synthesized orchestration to good effect, still working in tandem with his long term cohort Rodney Lee to produce a long album of no less than fourteen interesting and varied melodic tunes. As you might expect from the title, his smooth/cool electric and acoustic guitar work (using exclusively Benedetto instruments), is underpinned here and there with a subtle flavour of Ravel but it's none the worse for that. Also discernible on a few tracks is the echoey, phasey, sci-fi sort of backdrop that added such an interesting touch to some of the tracks on his last album (which I really like as well).
The principal recording venue was Thrust & Pound Studios in Van Nuys, with contributions from most of the other participants apparently recorded at their home studios, amongst them Larry Steen, Andre Berry, Dwayne "Smitty" Smith, Tim Landers (occasionally of Vital Information) & Rico Belled (mostly acoustic bass), Barbra Porter (violin), Dave Karosny & Eric Valentine (drums) and Mitchell Forman (on just one excellent track) as well as Rodney Lee on keyboards. Other recording was done at CS's home studio, also in Van Nuys. Presumably this way of doing things is rather less costly than the traditional method of hiring a mainstream studio for however many months it takes to put together an album (though Andy Summers seems to manage to record his albums in just a few days at one or other of his favourite studios in Venice or Santa Monica, just near to where he lives). Rodney Lee also did the mixing and mastering at Innocent Bystander Studio in Santa Monica, very well too, as the whole album sounds very coherent and together from end to end. There's certainly nothing homespun or bargain basement about the overall end result. It's every bit as polished and professional sounding as you'd hope for, in all departments.
The two bonus tracks not included on the album can be accessed online (though I couldn't figure out how to download them). However, they're not really consistent with the rest of the album and, truth to tell, I didn't think they're much cop. But Blue Bolero has a good long running time and every track is good, so that doesn't really matter.
I like this album very much, having as it does a bit more variety of pace and colour than its two predecessors. It's also more thoughtful and reflective than his earlier, perhaps more pop-orientated albums and can be warmly recommended to anyone who likes Chris's distinctive style of writing and playing. In fact, having had it now for a few months, I'd say it's his best album yet. If I'm still playing and enjoying it a year hence as much as I seem to be now I may well up my star rating to five. It really is very good indeed and was almost my top album purchase of 2010, pipped at the 12th hour only by the remastered edition of Dave Brubeck Quartet's Live At The Carnegie Hall double from 1963 ~ that really is something special, even after all this time.