In an effort to provide you with a bit of fun for the weekend, the scathing review theme continues. Few CDs have ever come my way that have been as unsatisfying as this one. As ever, I think that I went the extra mile to try to understand it...
Who Ate All The Tapas?
The Birds Recording Company (CD 1001)
Latin Swing; Minor Blues; Adagio; Spanish Cinema; Baiao De Gude; Take 5; Heroes Part I: Prelude; Part II: Paganini Passing; Part III: Heroes; Part IV: Dance & Cadenza; Saeta; On The Run; Blue Drag.
Jamie Fekete, Sophie Johnson, Sam Slater (g); Bryan Corbett (t/flh), (Recorded Summer 2004).
A strange title at first sight, but by the time we get to the third track, an adaptation of Rodriguez’ “Concerto de Aranjuez”, it is apparent that this is exactly the kind of inoffensive jazz-lite heard in swanky tapas bars and bistros the worldover. Thirteen tracks, each barely breaking the four minute barrier, slickly executed but lacking the kinds of rough edges that would tell you this is jazz, a music of spontanaeity.
Formed in 2001, Trio Gitano are a guitar trio drawing on a range of influences, from gypsy jazz to classical, flamenco and other folk forms. They even have a musical director, Bryan Lester, who arranges much of the material. A string of appearances at clubs, theatres and festivals has put them on the map, and I can’t imagine they’d disappoint casual listeners with their tightly drilled delivery.
Not unlike Nigel Kennedy’s forgettable foray into jazz, this is music aimed at people who think they like jazz but probably turn edgy whenever the melody seems to be too far away. Trumpet and flugelhorn player Bryan Corbett spices things up on three of the tracks, the aforementioned “Concerto”, “Spanish Cinema” and “Saeta”. If it’s an attempt to evoke Sketches of Spain then perhaps Kenny G can be the next Coltrane.
Paul Desmond’s “Take 5”, perhaps the one piece of jazz that more people are unconsciously familiar with than any other, gets the luxury of a six minute rendition. Hardly a workout, but the trio do at least attempt something of substance.
Taken on its own terms, which ultimately it has to be, Who Ate All The Tapas? is pleasant, pretty music with enough virtuosity to engage even attentive listeners. For the more demanding jazz audience, however, tapas alone will never fill a hungry belly.
(Jazz Review, October 2005)