Facing North Review

JG facing north

MAY 2017

Music Reviews
Jack Gates – Bring The Flavors

Written by Lisa Mc Sherry
Published: 21 May 2017

This is one of my favorite new CDs! The musicianship is sterling and the tunes are gorgeous. Gates and his fellow musicians were inspired by nature, meditation, Tibetan Buddhism and peaceful living. World influences are integrated into the songs through light percussion and instrumentation and serve to enhance the music’s accessibility.

The title is spot-on, too. As shown on the cover art, the various influences are like spices in cooking. A little pinch is enough to add great flavor. Gates drafted fine musicians to support his skillful guitar work, including Steven Robertson on percussion and Stan Poplin on bass. Harmonica is the hot new/old sound, and Damien Masterson provides wonderful harmonic leads on a few tunes, like Track 2: Time In. It’s great to hear this instrument prove its versatility in a jazz-ballad format. Track 4: Waterfalls features the expert cello playing of Michal Palzewicz. Once more a very traditional, old instrument displays how beautifully it can express contemporary thoughts and sounds.

The longest track on the album is Track 5: Seraphic Journey (8:14 min). It begins with a simple acoustic guitar melodic theme that evolves into a complex melody with a luscious chord progression. After the first minute, an electric guitar adds in a duet part.  Throughout the song parts are added and layered. The song’s length allows for plenty of developmental expression, and it’s all good.

This album fits into the adult contemporary jazz in a larger sense, but draws on plenty of world-music influences. The variety of the world-music fusion influences are skillfully incorporated with a thoughtful, light touch.

I especially appreciated that the music remains within a consistent range of stylistic and compositional boundaries. The material is consistent and doesn’t make treacherous leaps from one idiom into another. While it’s tempting to present as much range as possible within a CD, doing so sometimes reduces the ability of the listener to stay engaged throughout the entire CD play-time. Gates does a great job at flashing his creative and musical muscles, and the music flows coherently from track to track.

Track 9: The Magician is an acoustic guitar solo that’s both enigmatic and haunting. It equals the very fine guitar work of Billy McLaughlin. It’s followed by Track 10: Dawn Walker with more gorgeous harmonica work by Masterson. The song is expressive and heart-warming without being an emo-fest. The album ends with Track 14: Liquid Entropy. This is the most mystically juicy track on the album; it gave me flash-backs to one of Santana’s earliest albums “Caravanserai”. It incorporates eastern-style sounds with western instruments.

This album is well worth listening to! It is awesome for kicking back and relaxation, especially for those who are fond of good guitar work. “Bring the Flavor” gets a Poo-Car rating of 10 stars. As the title suggests, it’s a delicious mix with exactly the right amount of spice to make it intriguing without being overwhelming or inaccessible. Well done!

~review by Elizabeth Hazel
Artist: Jack Gates
WhiteGates Publishing, 2017
14 tracks, 54 min. Mp3 download $9.49 (Amazon).




Blue Wolf Reviews

Bring The Flavors

With Jack Gates music you never know quite where you are going to end up but on the first track and the title to the album Bring The Flavors you immediately realise that he has once again managed to create a wonderful morphing of jazz, Latin, new age, world fusion and all the other beats and vibes that go into making an inspired, joyful and very definitely up-beat collection to delight.

Track 2, Time In presents an energizing taste of harmonica with a very Brazilian overtone that relates immediately to fun, enjoyment and other intriguing places whereas the following track Wave Theory is a mix of sixties beats, with overtones of beach boys, surf’s up reggae styles combined, to once again return you to the magic, the lifestyle, the love of the ocean, to a time when surf and surfing was the ultimate.

Waterfalls slows the pace with a mellow, and yet slightly up-tempo beat combining ‘cello and guitar in what could almost be termed as ‘improv’, as the two style, classical and modern weave together in beautiful harmony.

Gates has cleverly experimented with using both nylon string and electric guitar overdubbed on several tracks adding layers within the piece which are immediately discernible and therefore enjoyable as it teases the ear, requesting that closer attention is paid to the music.

As the tracks unfold, presenting what they will, but always sunlight, enjoyment and a great sense of peace, which is surprising considering the tempo of the styles used; it is as if the music is reaching out, touching a chord to say in this world, yes, it is alright to relax, to enjoy and to have fun!

Choco Latte is a delicious combination once again of two acoustic guitars to create the richness of Afro-Cuban jazz styles and perhaps is reminiscent of a warm evening sitting at a street café watching the world go, by listing to the back-beat from a group of musos’ immersed in their creation.

The beautiful, raga inspired Liquid Entropy rounds out the collection with the use of two electric guitars to create well known melodic, shape, form and rhythm so synonymous of Indian classical music; a fitting finale.

Gates states, ’Music can be like cooking where you add a variety of spices to come up with something new.’ With Bring The Flavors he most certainly has created a dish which will be enjoyed over and over again.