This is a superb group of seasoned pros from Minnesota that are described as Chick Corea meets Dixie Dregs meets Prairie Home Companion. I whole-heartedly agree with this description. Many might look at this as a commercial adult contemporary sort of band, but it is a fine example of four musicians coming together to make interesting, creative, and extremely well done jazz rock, with rock, bluegrass , folk, and bluegrass styles. For me, it reminded me of a very rare and lesser known band called Flying Island that I owned on vinyl back in the 70's. It does have a commercial intention, but the point is they do this music in a way above average way. If you appreciate well played music in the good time fusion realm, then you will love this band.
The individual players all have big credentials from different backgrounds, which is what makes this combination happen so exact and easy. For instance, Dan Neale, the guitarist has played with Bo Diddley and Martin Zellar. Mark O'Day studied with Joe Porcaro ( Jeff Porcaro's father ).
Okay, so it's mostly safe (meaning your whole family can enjoy it) and not at all for the proggers who love RIO type fusion, nor is it for the prog rocker who like only progressive rock s, or even the jazz fusion freaks into only heady bands such as Arti + Mesteri, Didier Lockwood, Morglbl, ( don't expect me to list 50 more ) and the like. You know those fantastic European jazz fusion bands *s* So, for me, it is a thing of enjoying any band who plays great, in that often hard to find eminence.
I think you all will be surprised at the end of the disc, as cuts like Dark Matter( song 6) kicks into high gear with double bass drumming, and pulls of a Jean Luc Ponty ala Simon Phillips sound a like fusion, off in living color. It is at that point that my ears perked up and I knew something was far deeper with this recording than a MOR style happy NPR band. This band can cook and has the chops to do anything they want. So it is with this, that I can recommend the band's debut. Not one slacker musician in the bunch. Take my word for it. Dark Matter is worth the price of the CD alone. The female violinist fits in perfectly with the whole scheme of things.
You'll get a kick out of coming from Dark Matter to the next bluegrass tapping your toes songs. Much like the concept Mike Oldfield pulled on last song of Tubular Bells, with that little folk jam. Leaves you with the same opposite emotions. I tend to enjoy being jerked from ecstasy to funny. In short, there is no boredom in all this. Song 9 ( Missing Parts) brings back the jazz fusion ala Dixie Dregs. Then they end with a ethereal intro that jumps into that jazz rock mode again adding that same strong ending of a Jean Luc Ponty jam out complete with double bass drums and crystal clear musicianship throughout. There isn't a weak track on the CD, and you'll have to make a call whether you like a diverse recording of top notch, jazz rock, bluegrass, fusion, with touches of eastern, all in a nicely wrapped birthday present. I like it!!! ( coming from a RIO nut, who owns over 10,0000 CD's from all over the world from some of the most odd and insanely good bands in the entire planet. ). *note* Be sure to keep the CD playing at end for another little surprise ditty(hidden track) they have waiting. It really does say something about the band. Honestly, I think this band really wishes it could be more avant garde, but the market won't allow them to make a dime doing that. I could cry for that fact. Most of us prog lovers would wish we could make a living with our music. BUT.. The public gets what the numbskulls want them to have. Here is looking forward to another CD by The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra. Over and out!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on October 13th, 2010