Audio Mixer: Tom McCauley.
Photographers: Dan Siegel; Joe Arias .
Pianist and composer Dan Siegel is an adventurer. After his breakout smooth jazz hits in the 1980s he successfully experimented with genres ranging from new age to film and TV scores and back. Indigo, his 20th album -- and first in half a decade -- features ten new compositions which have been painstakingly arranged and performed by a crack cast of players that includes bassist and co-producer Brian Bromberg, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Allen Hinds (and Mike Miller on two tracks), Yellowjackets' drummer Will Kennedy, vibist Craig Fundyga, and percussionist Lenny Castro on percussion. Two different brass sections alternate on five cuts. Immediately striking is Indigo's sound. Tracked live in Bromberg's home studio, it is warm, rich, immediate, and full. These are some of Siegel's most imaginative tunes to date, and that's saying plenty. This is contemporary jazz played in a very straight-ahead fashion. That said, these tunes are boundary-less, they encompass elements from several genres in a jazz context. Opener "To Be Continued" contains elements of contemporary classical crossover, pop, and even Siegel's film music -- the brass section utilizes euphonium, French horn, and flügelhorns. But there is a palpable, syncopated groove in the pianist's harmonically inventive solo. The title cut begins with resonator and electric guitars in a blues groove, as Siegel's piano evokes a Ray Charles-like R&B, but as it unfolds with bright brass and a country-funk backbeat, the tune moves in several directions simultaneously and could only be encompassed by jazz. The guitar in "Beyond" actually evokes a pedal steel, but the interplay between piano, upright bass, and acoustic guitars is elegant, graceful, and emotionally deep. "If Ever" contains a lithe Latin tinge and a rich, expansive brass chart; its melody is impeccably crafted and contains excellent solos by Siegel and Sheppard on soprano. The R&B flavor in "Spur of the Moment" is offset by intricate counterpoint and lyric exchanges, the soloists atop the brassy, funky groove. "Consider This" is smoother and sweeter; it's soulful and cosmopolitan with Siegel adding a B-3 in support of his piano; Castro's percussion adds a Caribbean flavor. Closer "Endless" is positively euphoric, it's one of the finest moments here, due in no small part to Bromberg's knockout, fleet-fingered, woody pizzicato solo. Indigo is holistic and seamless in its articulation of contemporary jazz -- an extension in popular music and jazz's Big Tent tradition. More than this, though, it is a glorious, personal, panoramic statement from an artist who, after 35 years, is at the height of his creative powers. ~ Thom Jurek