Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Thε Яippiиgτoиs - Touяisτ Iи Pαrαdisε (1989)
Ripped from CD.
One of five albums in my vast collection that I consider a desert island disc, this is, at least in my eyes, the single best contemporary/smooth jazz record that has ever been recorded by anyone at any period of time. Closely matched in overall quality by only a few other artists in this sort of genre or related areas (Toshiki Kadomatsu, Pat Metheny, Kit Walker and jazz-fusioners Karizma), the superlatives I could lay upon the nine cuts within this disc are near infinite. Deceptively accessible, melodic and boiling with atmosphere, this was an album recorded just as the Rips had begun to hit their peak. Russ Freeman, guitar god that he is, was beginning to experiment a bit more with guitar synths, percussionist Steve Reid was coming into his role as the group's sound architect and soundscaper, and Brandon Fields demonstrates time and time again what a damn good alto saxophonist can do when he isn't trying to be a hack like David Sanborn.
Needless to say, this is a strong record through and through, with four out of nine pieces in particular cementing this album's place at the godhead of all things smooth and Weather Channelesque. First is the title track, opened and closed out with some swooshing Korg synths and a steady drumline that remains (even into 2011) the coolest intro to any muzak ever written. Carl Anderson even scats throughout! Next you have the 6.5 minute 'One Summer Night In Brazil', which while slow remains sumptuous, beautifully textured and even tideful thanks to a combination of acoustic guitar, a couple of skins and Freeman. The last two, 'Earthbound' and 'Destiny' are a punchy pair that kick things up a notch in pace yet remain slick and electrified. They help close out one hell of a strong set, and are in fact worth the price of admission in a nutshell.
I can count the albums on both hands that made me sit up and suck in every track in only one go-around, with Yes's Close To The Edge, The Stooges' Fun House, It Bites' The Tall Ships and Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger being a couple of the big ones. Records that outperform, outclass, breezing through hooks, ideas and dynamics in twenty to forty minutes that make entire other bands' recorded outputs look like yesterday's garbage.
This was the album that turned me into a fanatic of all things smooth, the catalyst for a million other brilliant discoveries both analogous and bizarre, and nothing captures the late 80's better by a country mile.