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FAME Review: David Bach – Otherworld

David Bach’s evolution as a keyboardist is interesting. An Air Force brat, he took to the piano so ardently that he never had to be hectored to practice. Then, from base to base, he lucked into really good teachers, and, through his teen-aged years, deciding upon the choice of intelligent aficionados the world round, got into progrock during his time spent in Europe when prog was peaking. Lucky bastard! At the same time, he caught onto jazz with Herbie, Chick, Keith, and others—hell, if you were into prog, you could hardly avoid jazz—and made his decision to turn in that direction.

My sentiment since the 70s has been that Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, and others are the next phase in neoclassical musics (welded to no end of permutations of Romantic/Impressionist/etc.), and I fought with professors in college over that. Dave Bach’s stance has been that Corea, Jarrett, and others are the new classical musician-composers, and he went toe to toe with his profs—to little avail if I’m reading the inferences in the promo lit correctly, and thus left the classical world that had also been beckoning him in order to pursue a much better grail. All those various influences landed him in the fusion/World/Serious Smooth Jazz realm, and that’s what you get with Otherworld.

The opening cut, City Lights, brings the funk ‘n da groove in a way that’ll have Bob James dancing the funky chicken in the streets. Much of the rest of the disc hits more or less on Yellowjackets / Rippingtons / Jasper van’t Hof / Joachim Kuhn / Passport venues, intelligent musics you can dance to. Angels, my favorite track, gets a good deal more serious without becoming at all pretentious, less kick-yer-heels hip, instead reflecting the classical/chamber tangent that surfaced in his early studies, something Pat Moraz woulda come up with in his later solo output, in between Refugee and Yes, echoes of a less psychedelic Cyrille Verdeaux sounding as well. Lorenzo Sands’ hypnotic bass work maintains a serial bedrock as Bobby Read’s sax glides above Bach’s simul-synched piano and synths playing against and with one another.

After a couple swingin’ cuts, the balladic Layer of My Heart returns to Angels depths, this time in slower tempo and less ornate, kind of a Ravel/Bach/Satie gig where every note counts. Rite or Wrong gets way the hell funky, a shakin’ soul strut with Dave Wells plying a Grover Washingtonian soprano sax. Otherworld closes with the ethereal Night of Day, an evening song cleansed of turmoil and stress, peering at the stars with just a touch of wistfulness…but mostly a calm satisfaction that, despite all else, some things remain unspoiled for contemplation.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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Romantic Verses in Jazz Shades

Epinions  by Susan Frances

published 12/1/2013

The Bottom Line Optimistic and upbeat versing

Otherworld, the new recording from keyboardist David Bach has a springy bounce emblematic of saxophonist Andrew Neu and cohesive melodic forms akin to David Sanborn. The elegant jetés and sashays formed by Bach’s keys along “There and Back” are sonically elevating, and the mild-mannered movements of Leonard Stevens’s guitar and David Marq Wells’s saxophone along “Sweet Spot” soak the listener in an aurally calming bath, massaging away any tightness in the senses.

The instrumentation moves like a ballerina leaping and gliding across the stage demonstrated by the arabesque lobes wielded by Bach’s keys in “Angels.” Bach and crew shift to a jazz palette in “All In” adorned in splashing drum cymbals, bongo-toned percussions, and gently flared horns. The serenely sounding toots of the saxophone and the twinkling synths glimmer an after-hours vibe in “Sapphire” and fodder a somber mood in “Layer of My Heart” as the keys resound with heavy tones weighing down the melody. Even without lyrics, it’s discernibly a meaningful piece.

Bach and crew shift back to their characteristic state of optimism with upbeat pulses wringing Bach’s keys in the poetic verses of Al Williams’s flute as the rhythm section acts as the sealant holding them all together. Every strand of notes, every aligning segment, and every improvised phrasing is groomed to etch a positive incline in the melodies like the glistening soundscapes of “With or Without You.” Neither sparse or ostentatious but perfectly in the middle of the road, Otherworld transports listeners to another world of tranquility and aphrodisiac-like ethers.


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