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Garaj Mahal - More Mr. Nice Guy CD (album) cover

MORE MR. NICE GUY

Garaj Mahal

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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4 stars Another interesting jazz fusion release from 2010. The band are mixing (and very professionally) vintage atmospheric keyboards -driven jazz fusion ( influenced by Hancock) with strong Middle-East and Indian music influences. If basic sound is often vintage fusion with funky feeling, there are many excurses to electronics, heavy rock guitars and more commercial jazz territories.

Some compositions sound still as great nostalgia to Headhunters, but in a fresh and slightly modernised way. At the same time album includes some less serious material, including even some openly danceable funky-soul vocals songs (as "Today" or "What My Friends Say"). Being a mixed bag, I think this release could attract different listeners by its freshness. Possibly not the best example for progressive fusion purists, this music still have enough pleasant moments for them to offer as well.

One of really non-boring jazz-fusion work from this spring, could be nice entrance for genre newcomers.

Report this review (#276384)
Posted Monday, April 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's hard to tell if it's a collective of highly skilled musicians, or an actual band. Considering that the members remain the same, it's likely that they became a band in the process of just having some fun in the beginning. Known about their generally excellent live performances - something that caught my attention a while ago - this is the first studio material I've ever listened to. Indeed twice in a row, if only because I couldn't believe my ears as I expected something rather different.

Firstly, the name Garaj Mahal is somewhat meaningless and rather misleading as it implies Indian style music - which it is only to a negligible extent at times It's a mix of Jazz-Fusion and other approaches thrown together in no particular order, at least on this album.

Brilliant musicianship permeates the whole work, but one has to pay attention to realize that beneath some rather lame compositions. Jazz-Fusion is present, but it's dangerously close to elevator music. Slick, smooth, but not quite as cheesy as releases by GRP Records (Dave Gruisin, Lee Ritanour, Eric Gales and the likes). Disregarding the framework to focus on the otherwise credible playing requires some effort, also represents a degree of irritation for having to do so.

But before you could ease into it with some resignation, a couple of tracks that sound as close to Dixie Dregs (minus violin and Steve Morse's permanent wrist vibrato) as it gets. Not bad at all, but a bit out of place. Further fragmentation occurs with the needless addition of two vocal tracks. Not really disturbing voice, only pointless addition that further disrupts the (non-existent) flow. The final tune by Eric Levy (p) is thoughtful and very pleasant, reminiscent of Lyle Mays (of Pat Metheny Group) and perhaps the only one that really pleases on this album.

The conclusion is that great playing onto disjointed and weak framework leaves nothing much memorable here and represents a wasted opportunity. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1191209)
Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2014 | Review Permalink

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