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CD Review: Cordovan – Highway 10 Blues

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Cordovan’s Highway 10 Blues, and it is far from Blues — it is way out there ‘Left Wing Jazz’. I hate to roast these guys if it is just my taste, but I like everything from Country to Rock, so should I decline to review and send this to someone else? I’m lost.

That being my first impression, I set about to try and understand this unique undertaking by Cordovan artists, Greg Reeves, Cindy Bradley, Charles Burns, James Hardaway, Victor Indrizzo, Michael Israel, Jim Peterson, Kurt Stevenson, and Eric Stock. The immediately stunning fact of this CD is that all of the artists recorded their own respective tracks independently, in cities across the nation and shared them via the Internet as MP3s, never sitting with the rest of the band! This kind of breakthrough Internet music publishing seems to have had both positive and negative effects on the end result.

The cohesion of the artists is definitely stunning, given that this album passed back and forth, all the while being tweaked and adjusted. At the same time, I can’t help but feel this also comes into play with the album having almost a robotic, or mechanical feel.

The title track, Highway 10 Blues, starts out with promises of a 1940s detective novel, but unfortunately slips quickly into an almost automatic play mode complete with echoes and ping-like sound effects. There are even some of the classical Pink Floyd ‘shifting left to right in the speakers type of machine sounds’. While I do not take away from the brilliance of mixing this track via the Internet, it just doesn’t get there with the warmth and personal emotion I like in Jazz.

Charles Burn’s sax on the second track Mesa, sounds lifeless at first, but it does come around midway through. That same repetitious mechanical feel still prevails though, and there is a bit of that old Gino Vanelli feel to the keyboards, and that was played out by him too much on his own albums.

Tracks three and five, Gwen and Jackpot, both start off with that magnificent ’40’s touch, yet quickly fall back to the machines again. The more I listened to this CD, the more I became convinced that writer/ musician/ programmer Greg Reeves, must have intended to hit this sound of automation, with its twists and turns of familiarity based in earlier times. While I thoroughly enjoyed certain passages like the sax on Trouble, the mixed-in Acid Rock Effects just didn’t do it for me, not on this CD.

Overall, an impressive undertaking from a sound engineer’s perspective, yet as I said in opening, the title belies what is in store for the listener.

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