Friday, October 20, 2017

Dave Kline Band's Shifting Borders on CD

I've been quite busy the last couple of weeks moving into my new Rochester digs. After 18 months in an apartment I finally have a house again, and a listening room. I also have a huge pile of music to review, so I need to spend the next few days diving into it, especially since I'm going on vacation in a few days. I'm certainly not going to rush through reviews the next few days--I've actually been getting very familiar with most of them over the last couple of months. One that really stands out is this one from jazz violinist Dave Kline. It's immediately likeable and engaging, and it's been in my car CD rotation while I move the last few boxes from Syracuse.

As you might deduce from its title, this album focuses on worldly themes and influences. Kline started off as a classical violinist while growing up in London, but when he moved to the US he became interested in music from other parts of the world--Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. As you move through these nine originals, you'll hear all sorts of esoteric motifs that range from good old-fashioned rock and roll guitars to Eastern European fiddles to Haitian percussion. It's a mish-mash of styles (the liner notes employ the word "smorgasbord," which is pretty accurate), but it works so effectively because of the energy and drama Kline injects into each composition.

While it's beautifully recorded, it's not purist by jazz standards. Kline has enlisted plenty of "plugged-in" musicians, in other words, and he's fond of using electric violins and layering tracks in order to create his own string sections. Normally this would push the effort into the jazz fusion genre, but so much of this music crosses over into world music and, let's face it, pop. But to suggest Shifting Borders is mainstream is doing a disservice to the sheer creativity involved. I'm not a huge fan of pigeon-holing music into genres, and Kline is delivering likeable, energetic songs that may appeal to the masses while emerging from a palette of uncommon colors.

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