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CD REVIEW: Pieces of a Dream - Acquainted With the Night
By Ben Ohmart - 05/21/2007 - 10:34 AM EDT

Artist: Band: Pieces of a Dream
Genre: Jazz
CD Review:
After 25 years, Pieces of a Dream should well be acquainted with the night. Having built a solid reputation for ­ and partly instigating ­ smooth jazz as a force of nature, since 1976 these Pieces have been picking up where jazz fusion was dying off.

Nothing illustrates their cool, good feelin’ combo style better than ‘Brand Nu Start’, a piano based night sparkle, saxed up by Kenny Blake, with James Lloyd providing the keys and starry sky effects. Who needs the bass? Bryan Brock keeps it bouncy without waking the baby with his percussive self, and Randy Bowland adds just Enough guitar to spice it up and make you wonder, ‘Hmm... where’s the strings?’

Two classic covers emerge on the new 2001 album, both vocalized. The most exciting might be ‘Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To?)’, shaken by a hip hop beat and Ramona Dunlap’s soul mother voice that has such clear resonance you wonder if she wasn’t kidnapped from a good black musical for this session. A little programming, some acoustic guitar tripping across the synth-strings, it’s a cover I’ll bet Diana R. herself never thought of.

The other classic is ‘Upside Down’, beaten into funk with stereophonic Maysa Leak vocals and yet more clever programming from James Lloyd. And it shimmies on out like the end of Ease on the Down the Road, verbal candy unwrapped in All directions.

As solid as the vocal selections are, it’s the smoooothness emanating from ‘Off the Hook’ and all sax-night tunes thus that spirits the album from being just aNother jazz cd. Holding control of midnight puts Pieces in a very lofty locale. Whether they are horn-chording the throng full of ‘Off the Hook’, or softly dancing to get ‘Acquainted With the Night’, the formula of love is all flowing, dripping like a strong peach, all down your sleepy mouth, getting things really sticky.

Hang an ear on the opener, ‘Ru Ready’ and see what 4 players can do. Eddie Baccus Jr. on alto sax, Curtis Harmon on drums, Ronny Jordan providing the little chic-a-chic glue of invisible guitar, and James Lloyd again, keys man supreme. Yeah, start with the beat, and gradually work your way to peace and harmonic smoothies. A dozen should get you started.

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