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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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