Danny Gottlieb: Aquamarine
Danny Gottlieb (drums)
Aquamarine (Atlantic 7 81806-2)
Danny Gottlieb (drums),
Doug Hall (keyboards, rhythm guitar), John Abercrombie (guitar synthesizer), Café (percussion).
Composed by Doug Hall.
Recorded: New York, 1987
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
For a while there in the late 1980s there was a short-lived fusion comeback. The Chick Corea Electrik Band was having some success. The new Mahavishnu band was attracting attention. Musicians such as saxophonist Bill Evans, drummer Dennis Chambers, keyboardist Clifford Carter, bassist Mark Egan and others began to develop a following. Guitarist Allan Holdsworth was making a mark. Soon, however, the record companies clamped down on any creativity coming from this branch of jazz in favor of the now burgeoning "smooth jazz" movement. (Pardon me; I need a moment to gag.) Recording contracts and promotional funds evaporated faster than a bubble on a gas burner.
Danny Gottlieb was among those shortchanged by this corporate attitude. Gottlieb had been part of the very popular Pat Metheny Group and later the reformed Mahavishnu. Along with his musical partner, the wonderful bassist Mark Egan, he had formed the very impressive band Elements. Unfortunately, Aquamarine became one of his few bites of the apple. It is nonetheless a delicious bite.
An infectious semi-Caribbean percussive riff opens the title cut, which is a pleasing ballad powered by the sailing guitar synthesizer of John Abercrombie, Doug Hall's keyboards and Gottlieb's backbeat. Its beautiful melody even makes "Aquamarine" a potential smooth jazz vehicle. (Pardon me; I need another moment to gag.) Luckily, thanks to the players' advanced improvising, that terrible fate does not befall this memorable melody, and in time the ingratiating opening riff returns to keep everything afloat. This isn't deep-sea diving. But a little scuba in the coral reef can make for an exciting outing. The rest of the album ain't chum either.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky