Zupe & Nichols: Speechless




Zupe (keyboards, trumpet, trombone) and Dave Nichols (electric guitar)


Speechless (MBR 1107)

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Zupe (keyboards, trumpet, trombone), Dave Nichols (electric guitar),

Jamie Peck, Jerry Sandusky (saxes), Chuck Knepper (acoustic guitar), Bill Smith (bass)


Composed by Zupe and Dave Nichols


Recorded: Altoona, PA, 2007


Rating: 82/100 (learn more)

According to my cursory research this Zupe guy is quite an entertainer and character out and about Altoona, Pennsylvania. He and Dave Nichols, a partner in crime for two decades, co-wrote the music on Speechless. I would simply call it "party music." Mostly it is a very heavily blues-based rock with an occasional jazz flourish. I don't quite hear the supposed influences of Jeff Beck, Joe Zawinul and Max Weinberg as touted in the press material. Joe Zawinul? But the music is fun and well performed.

"Speechless" is the album's final cut. After an expressive slow start from Zupe on keys, the piece turns into a classical progressive rock number before again changing to a light funk groove. The song continues to morph into a saxophone ballad followed by blues guitar and a repeating synthesizer riff to put the cherry on top. No one at the party is going to try and change the CD when this is on.

Rating explanation: Four points were removed because of the over-cleanliness of the recording. This is not Smooth Jazz. But when you eliminate all the rough edges in the recording process, you take away a bit of its character. I hope and trust the band sounds a bit rougher live.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky


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