First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2001, Volume 8, #7
Written by John Metzger
What happens when three members of Bruce Hornsby's touring band team up with a notable jazz guitarist to record an album? The answer can be found on the intriguing debut from ModeReko. As one might expect, both the band — which features drummer John Molo, trumpeter John D'Earth, saxophone and woodwind player Bobby Read, and guitarist Tim Kobza — and album combine rock, jazz, and funk influences into a rich, dynamic stew of sounds.
There's no question that without Miles Davis' pioneering efforts in the jazz idiom, ModeReko never could have been made. But the group also winds its way through the instrumental rock of '60s icons The Ventures, the sequenced loops of hip-hop, the folk-meets-jazz flare of Traffic, and the mellow jazz of Pat Metheny. Finally, the cosmic flight L.A.-VA sounds an awful lot like the Grateful Dead's Scarlet Begonias and Fire on the Mountain were merged together into a single entity, perhaps providing some insight into the embryonic beginnings of these songs. That is: they probably grew out of the impromptu jams of Hornsby's band as it waited for its leader to take the stage.
Regardless, one has to give ModeReko credit for not overdoing any of the tracks and not allowing them to overstay their welcome. Where the band's counterparts on the jazz-funk scene might have brooded seemingly forever on a single groove, ModeReko is constantly on the move — almost to a fault. It might have been nice if at least a few of these songs had been explored a little bit more thoroughly. In concert, perhaps the band might do that, but here they offer just mere glimpses of what could be, although that's not such a bad place to start.
ModeReko is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box