STYLE: Jazz RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 20430- LABEL: 101 South S71662 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by James Tweed
Hot on the heels of sax player Justo Almario's 'Heritage' comes Koinonia bassist Abraham Laboriel's wonderful solo debut. His dear friends include guitarists Larry Carlton and Dean Parks, drummers Alex Acuna, Steve Gadd and Jim Keltner, keyboardists Don Grusin, Greg Mathieson and Joe Sample, horn players Justo Almario and Ernie Watts, and vocalists Bill Champlain and Al Jarreau - and what a wonderful sound they make. Abe wrote or co-wrote eight of the 11 cuts and their feel is very West Coast jazz, from the funky rhythms of "Holidays" and "Goyo" to the title track and "My Joy Is You". Abe is a very generous frontman, refusing to hog the spotlight - unlike many who embark on solo projects - and ensuring his fellow musicians have lots of space to demonstrate their skills too. However, this European CD comes with a bonus the American edition doesn't have - a previously unreleased live Koinonia track, "Los Mios (My Own)", recorded in 1984 during the band's Scandinavian tour that was released as the live 'Celebration' album. Produced by drummer Bill Maxwell, "Los Mios" is a musical tour de force, an extraordinary workout by the six musicians before an enraptured Swedish audience. In many respects it is the real highlight of 'Dear Friends' and well worth tracking down. 'Dear Friends' is a consummate jazz album which complements Almario's 'Heritage' beautifully. Immaculate and quite superb.
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