Raves for “Otherworld”
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
Otherworld, Bach’s fifth record as leader and his fourth in the studio, is a testament to his growth as a player, composer, and producer. Just as Bach’s moody interfacing of classical, R&B, and improvisational influences distinguishes him from all the smooth jazz clones, despite its deep jazz roots, so too does a finer balance of effervescence and robustness distinguish it from his previous efforts. His European tenure shines through in the slick opener “City Lights” and its companion “There and Back,” both of which show his innate comfort with evocative atmospheres. From note one the latter especially places Bach squarely among likeminded instrumentalists such as Eberhard Weber and Jan Garbarek, minds who turned the jazz paradigm inward and brought it back to the melody. In this sense Bach is a luminescent storyteller, his playing evocative and precise. His pianism is front and center throughout, fleshed by equally descriptive contributions from his world-class band mates. By those musicians Bach has been as blessed as he is with talent.
The album’s roster includes multi-instrumentalist Bobby Read, who doubles as horn arranger of “Sapphire.” Other key players include reedman and longtime ally David Marq, whose cool soprano carries us out on a dream in “Night of Day,” the album’s aerodynamic closer; drummers Mark Prince and John Thomakos; and flutist Al Williams. The latter lends gorgeousness to the group’s take on Johann Sebastian Bach’s a-minor Invention No. 13 (BWV 784), recorded here in response to constant requests for Bach to pay tribute to his namesake. Guitarists Leonard Stevens and Andy Shriver lend further punch to the project. Whether through atmospheric washes of E-bow, funky backings, or keening solos, they deliver in spades, as do bassists Lorenzo Sands and Jimmy Charlsen. Percussionists Ekendra Das and Edgar Montalvo also keep things interesting with their masterful sense of color.
Despite the wealth of extras mined here, many of the songs are very much Bach’s own. The spaciously realized “Angels,” for one, came to him in a dream, while the reflective “Layer of My Heart” was a haunting melody that just wouldn’t go away. Still, the album has more than flowing expanse going for it. There are also focused nodes of groove and revelry. “All In” is emblematic in this regard. With a laddering bass line and hip percussive edge, it hits all the right targets. Being the reflective album that it is, Otherworld inevitably waxes nostalgic. Whether channeling Keith Emerson in the Hammond-infused “Rite or Wrong” or Steely Dan in the minimal, luxurious swim of “Sweet Spot,” Bach is the alpha and omega of these tunes. The band’s shining take on the U2 anthem “With or Without You” is an especially fruitful showcase of his command.
The album’s clarity of presence is due in no small part to the top-notch recording and mixing. The result is a fine and refreshing achievement in instrumental music that stands on its own for all its arrangement and thoughtfulness and is, above all, a work of honest creativity. Slated for a late fall 2013 release, Otherworld is exactly that: a place of escape, of spirit, and of joy.
Tyron Guli, Music Blog
David Bach’s Otherworld: Romantic Verses in Jazz Shades
by Susan Frances
Dec 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.
Magnificent Fresh and Very Original
I am not one to write reviews for anything or anyone..but I felt the urge to say how I feel about DB’s new project, “OtherWorld”. IT ROCKS!!!
I have been a David Bach fan from day 1, I own every single project he has ever recorded.
I have loved each and everyone, and have expressed this to him not only verbally, but by attending as many concerts as possible no matter how far, because he is just not any recording artist, he is a great performer as well, and his ability to make you feel as if he is playing for you and only you in a crowd of thousands, to me that speaks volume and the fact that you can experience that quality of music live as well as the recorded version is awesome.
This latest project,”OtherWorld” is yet another example of David’s love for what he does so well, composition after composition you can hear not just that is all original music, but musical perfection, with a freshness and uniqueness that makes “OtherWorld” a 10+.
David Bach’s “OtherWorld” not only shows his musical ingeniousness to compose and produce this masterful work, but it shows his integrity of musicianship by having to collaborate with him the best of the best musicians to bring his projects to such a high standard.
You can even tell that the originality in the art work was a labor of love and even the title projects plainly and forwardly, that when you listen to this new project,”OtherWorld” you will be embraced by music that came from his mind, his heart and soul as he envisions himself and takes each and every song to another world with his imaginative, ingenious and mysterious ways..in other words He goes in what I call the DB zone!!
And to say it’s the best of Bach yet,says a lot because all of his previous recording have been of ingenious artistry as well…but this one does take the prize!!! 🙂
This new Cd, or any of David’s music should be NOT labeled as smooth anything..His music is vibrant, compelling, exciting, with unique sounds and masterful originality.. the only title I would give it.. if I had to, would be Excellent music for the heart and soul…plain elegant, worldly and very Jazzy. <3
I love it…and can’t get enough of it!!!!