I'm not going to go into detail here so I'll just say that this is a wonderfully diverse and inventive selection of jazz and fusion numbers from Andy Summers, who is undoubtedly one of the tastiest, most sensitive players on the planet. I'm playing it straight away a second time as I write this, it's that good!
The musicians supporting Andy in this enterprise are all first rate and the synergy between them is magnificent. The orchestration on many of the tracks is wonderful and it's so nice to hear real cellos and violins etc. rather than the sampled stuff one so often comes across these days.
I have seven Andy Summers albums, having first discovered his solo talents when I bought The Golden Wire many years ago. Like that album, Peggy's Blue Skylight is definitely one of my favourites. More purchases are in the pipeline.
I for one am guilty of neglecting Mr Summers (quite distinguished) career after his departure from The Police, and I apologise to him. Time to put things in order. Like Sting (one wonders who got the idea/inspiration first), Andy has spent a lot of time expanding his musical palette and exploring jazz. This doesn't surprise me. With talents always obviously well above the demands of pop, jazz offers the more and accomplished & serious musician a greater challenge and fewer boundaries (not to say commercial considerations). Having explored the work of Theolonius Monk on 1999 's Green Chimneys, as if that wasn't a big enough challenge (I would suggest Monk is one of the greatest and complex jazz composers of all time), Peggy's Blue Skylight contains all covers of the enigmatic Charles Mingus, and, refreshingly, the slightly more obscure side of the man too. Working with such renowned and diverse musicians as trumpeter Randy Brecker, the Kronos Quartet, Deborah Harry, rapper Q Tip and Jazz Passengers Curtis Fowlkes, Roy Nathanson and Rob Thomas, this is Mingus with a contemporary slant, and an amazing variety of styles and influences; reggae, rock, funk, gypsy jazz, R&B, chamber music, tango and conga. Often times beautiful, sometimes dark, the creative daring and instrumental ingenuity showed in both Andy's arrangements and playing is stunning, the rhythmic & melodic complexity and stylistic diversity of his music showing that while these are not his compositions, he has clearly found his own sense of the music and done himself considerable justice.
Yet again Andy Summers manages to push the boundaries of what should be listened to to even greater heights. I keep looking back to "The Golden Wire" and wishing that he would do something so different and yet so good and here, at last, it is. From the Q-Tip rap to the much talked about Husky voice of Debbie Harry I sat amazed but the title track blew me away. This CD is Andy Summers at his best. Buy it, sit back and enjoy.
having bought this little wonder for much the same reason as its only other amazon reviewer thus far (ie; I also picked up on Green Chimneys, mr Summer's Monk outing), I feel I must press the cursor into service to sing its praises. As a sometime musician and big time music addict, I buy far too many of these little shiny discs ( and their big black precursors). Classics, blues, jazz, even country cause the shelves in the study to groan. Most get played what ?...three four times right through...some get revisited in those spiralling moments when one hits a vein of taste...mostly its Bach, sometimes miles, occasionally Bird, and when the kids get going its likely to be Revolver or Stevie Ray Vaughan...but new stuff ? Three four plays right through then its mostly up on the shelf with the rest of my bank balance... but occasionally, one of the little beggars gets itself glued to the turntable for several weeks - ie; it has playability - it connects. Last time this happened recently was Murray Perahia's Handel & Scarlatti sonatas, but dadgummit, its happened again with "Peggy"...I just gets stuck in a groove thang with this...and I must confess that I never particularly liked the police and I've always found it difficult to get very far with Mingus...what does this prove ? Maybe not a lot...maybe I should pay more attention to my "jazz chops", maybe I don't know my arse from my elbow, but I keep putting this disc back on the player and staying with it right through to the end...and it keeps surprising me...personally, I'm not that blown away by either the brecker or Debbie Harry contributions.I think the real achievement here is the way in which A Summers has put together a cooking little ensemble - thats the joy, this record rocks because of the way the group works...Could Summers be a little like Bill Basie ? Could his real strength lie in a combination of arrangements and band- building ? Questions, questions...I wouldn't recommend you spend your money on much, but this and Steve Swallow/Carla Blay's "Are We There Yet ?" (A criminally under-rated recording) really do merit you groping in the wallet and giving your listening brains a treat. Playability...try it in your lounge soon.