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The Tide's In
By Brian Rolland
Label: On The Full Moon Productions
The Tide's In tracks
1. Tide's In
2. Magellan
3. Free Fall
4. Doliber's Cove
5. Collage/Water Is Wide
6. Ask Me To
7. Roots of Rhythm Remain/African Skies
8. Millenium Calypso
9. Somewhere
10. Kick It
11. Catch Me If You Can
12. Moonlight Holds The Key
The Tide's In
Following up his previous mostly instrumental Dreams of Brazil, guitarist Brian Rolland has opted to include more vocals on The Tide’s In, a delightful and enjoyable excursion to a tropical island caressed by soft warm breezes and peopled with good friends sharing great times. An affirming and positive album, the CD is upbeat and bubbly. Sitting here mired in the last throes of another long Minnesota winter, this is just what I needed. With its calypso/island influences and jazzy/snazzy sensibility, The Tide's In helped me dream away the snow and cold, transported to a sunny beach, shaded by palm trees with waves lapping the shore and a tall cool one in my hand!

Artists contributing on the disc include John Lockwood (bass), Bob Weiner (percussion), Dave Mattacks (drums, keyboards and percussion), Eguie Castrillo (congas and percussion) and a trio of vocalists: Hope Carpenter, Marianne Murphy, and Katy Auburn. Rolland plays guitar as well as piano and he also sings now and then, too (although the women carry the bulk of that particular burden, and they do a mighty fine job of it too, I might add).

The mood is firmly established on the eight-minute opening title track, with its acoustic guitar, bass, and gently sexy rhythm on drums and percussion. I'm not sure which of the women is singing (maybe it's more than one) but the pretty vocals really add something special to the cut, wafting alongside the swaying beat and easy melodicism of the piece. Magellan, a shorter vocal tune, is sprightly and jazzy, yet carries a hint of something emotionally deeper. It's followed by two instrumentals, Free Fall, a revved-up explosion of ethnic percussion and guitar with more than a hint of Caribbean flavor (Rolland really cuts loose on this number) and Doliber's Cover, a more restrained and plaintive tune, yet still retaining that unmistakable air of "the island."

Of the remaining eight tracks, only two are instrumentals, so if you don't enjoy singing, this CD may not be a good choice. While I seldom review vocal releases, this one seems to flow along so smoothly that I just let the singers' numbers blend with the instrumentals, washing over me like a refreshing cool shower on a hot summer day. Rolland is savvy in unifying the album itself through a common approach to melody and rhythm. The mixture of smooth jazz and world fusion is seamless and polished without being too slick.

I do have a few nits to pick. While I applaud Rolland’s unique jazzy calypso-flavored take on the classic The Water Is Wide, I'm too big a fan of the more traditional approach to this storied song to embrace his decidedly unconventional version. The other track that I failed to connect with was the artist's cover of Roots of Rhythm Remain/African Skies (made famous on Paul Simon’s Graceland album). If you're going to cover a track like this one, you have to more or less hit it out of the park. Let's face it - Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo are just too good at what they do and this is not an easy song to spin in a different direction. Anything but aping the original is susceptible to suffering by comparison (although Rolland's take on the song isn't bad per se, just not as good as the more well-known version).

My minor complaints aside, The Tide's In is an infectious, entertaining and well-performed disc. I was particularly impressed with the tight arrangements and how well the singers integrated with the musicians. If you enjoy acoustic guitar with both a jazzy and a tropical twist, backed by a solid rhythm section which adds some "kick" (and some funk too sometimes), and you were a fan of a breezy kind of pop/jazz singing popularized by, e.g. Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66, you're going to want to check this CD out. Hey, it made me forget 5 degrees above zero outside my front door. What more do you want? Recommended.

Rating: Good +   Good +
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 4/8/2008
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