The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores
CD Review:Chris Bauer
Now's The Time
total time: 37.57
Label: Chris Bauer
Chris Bauer, Harmonica
Review by Robert Berta:
Chris Bauer put together a very nice recording here. The recording has a very nice quality recorded sound and fine harmonica playing. Chris has harmonica playing in his blood...his father was a chord player with the Harmonicats.
This recording shows what you can do with a simple setup. Chris used MIDI arrangements of various jazz tunes played through his Alesis Nanosynth midi module and simply turned off the solo part so he could play the missing part on his harmonica along with the "back up band" in a sort of a harmonica karaoke. You might think that this could be hokey...or not very musical...but Chris is a pretty competent jazz harmonica player so this comes off very well.
In the hands of a good musician, like the late Larry Adler, a harmonica can be a formidable instrument that belies its simplicity. When Chris plays his Meisterklasse and Hohner 64x harmonicas he illustrates what a good player can do with this instrument.
The selections are well known to just about anybody so you won't find any tunes that are unusual or ask you to adjust to a "new" way of listening to music. Nor will you find the same riffs repeated over and over in loud obnoxious playing without any dynamics or phrasing...here I go letting my prejudice against BAD harmonica players show through ;-). Instead these are fine performances of well known easy listening jazz tunes that have passed the test of time that you wouldn't mind listening to over and over again.
About the only complaint I have is that the CD is on the short side...about 38 minutes long. Hey Chris...there is a lot more room on a CD and I would love to hear a few more tracks. In my customary style I have exposed this CD to the extended play test...play it several times over several days to see if it grows on me...or quickly gets tiring. It passed that test. I also occasionally put a CD to the even tougher "Berta Family Test". I put it on my stereo and let my family hear it without comment from myself about what they are listening too. My 70 something year old mother-in-law enjoyed it...and I did too until she started singing along with it. My classically trained pianist and opera singing wife thought it was nifty...and my 7 and 9 year old didn't ask to have it turned off so they could watch cartoons on TV. It passed the Berta family household test with flying colors so I can recommend this CD as an easy listen that everyone in your house should enjoy (at least until your mother-in-law starts singing.)
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