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Dixie Dregs - Free Fall CD (album) cover


Dixie Dregs


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.78 | 100 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Free Fall" was the official debut release by Dixie Dregs, the item that allowed them to expand the focus of attention by the public after the non-official effort "The Great Spectacular". It was a pity that Parrish had left the band by the time this album was being recorded and produced (he returned shortly afterwards), but Davidowski indeed filled his shoes with total efficiency. All in all, the band's style was already robustly forged, with the dynamics of the West-Morgenstein rhythmic foundation perfectly oiled, as well as the effective duels between Morse and Sloan in order to enhance the main nuances of the melodic ideas. Influences from Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever are patent, but that's not the whole story: the heavy use of recurrent country airs, bluegrass moods and hard rock twists makes the DD material fit well in the kind of jazz-prog that they create on their own terms. The album kicks off with the catchy namesake track, agile and slightly augmented with funky cadences, the main motifs are well defined and not too complex. 'Hand Jig' bears a family resemblance in mood with the opener, featuring an Amazing bass solo. In between, 'Holiday', a very country-friendly track, offers a bit less of punch and a lot more of complexity, with a thematic development that is both impressive and intense. 'Moe Down' is a true celebration of the spirit of country music, provided with a richly stylish variation. 'Refried Funky Chicken' prolong this kind of momentum, albeit reconstructed through a catchy funky-based pace. 'Sleep' is a gentle interlude that finds the band deep in the realms of symphonic rock that at times reminds me of some ballet suite's softer passages. This makes it for a nice closure for the album's first half. And now it's time to start the second half, and what can go wrong with 'Cruise Control'? A definite DD classic, this electrifying display of exquisite dynamics is a perfect showcase for the typical Dregsian combination of good vibes and refined interactions. The progressively epic interlude brings a special flair to the track's development just before arriving at the hyper-climatic conclusion. 'Cosmopolitan Traveler' and 'Dig the Ditch' allow the band to focus on their jazz-rock interests without further ado, plain and simple (I mean the attitude, not the tracks, which are indeed quite demanding in the technical aspect). The band members' abilities to provide immaculate delivery and generate musical hooks are out of any question by now. Of course, it is in uplifting tracks such as these, together with complex tracks such as 'Cruise Control' and 'Holiday' that Morgenstein's technical proficiency becomes more straightforwardly noticeable. 'Wages of Weirdness' shows a further focalization on the jazz factor: the piano solo is leaned to old-fashioned Dixieland, while most violin phrases state some of the most lyrical moments in the album. 'Northern Lights' is the beautiful farewell track - a dreamy duet of acoustic guitar and violin initially set on soft jazzy flavors, eventually shifting to a pastoral timber. Morse's untouchably polished playing is perfectly complemented by Sloan's magical solemnity - what a lovely way to close down this essential example of jazz-prog from the USA!
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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