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Music Review: John Stetch – TV TRIO

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With TV TRIO, John Stetch has put together a compilation of a dozen television theme songs with the help of Doug Weiss on bass guitar and Rodney Green on drums. This CD is unique in that jazz notes rewrite shows defining the 70s and 80s.

Rather than using songs which would naturally be a match for the sounds associated with jazz, Stetch decided to pick those where he would be challenged to compose a memorable piece of out a well known favorite. Then, he would repeat the process eleven more times. This isn't easy for most people, but the task was not completely off base. After all, Stetch was nominated for four Juno Awards while he was obtaining his Bachelor of Music degree in Montreal, Canada. In 1988, he won the Prix du Jazz at the Montreal International Festival. By himself, he has recorded ten CDs.

The theme from The Waltons kicks off the set of tunes. Right at the start, one can tell this is a jazz album. The bounce is clearly heard on the piano as it picks its way through the piece. Drums add to the beat with a 'listen to me' tempo of their own. It sounds much different than what one would hear if the television show was being watched. Still, the tune can be picked out.

This Is It is the tune played when people are watching a cartoon with Bugs Bunny. Again, the bounce is distinctive on the piano playing. When I listened closely, however, I found I couldn't recognize from the opening notes what the song actually was.

Star Trek, therefore, was a huge improvement over both of these works. Form the opening note, it's clear what the song is supposed to be. I could visualize Captain Kirk and his crew having adventure after adventure as they traveled throughout space. Although the arrangement is different from the way most would identify it, this is probably my favorite out of the entire set. Dramatic tension is all too easy to imagine.

Dallas is slowed down greatly from its recognized form. It sounds like what one would hear if tickets had been purchased in a cabaret. The storyline's power is lost a bit with the gentle touch of the keyboard. Even the soft taps on the drums don't seem to help.

When I heard the theme from The Six Million Dollar Man, the guitar opening is a solid example of what is trying to be said. Someone who is built back after suffering an injury using bionic parts? Oh yes, it's there. The science fiction aspect is blatantly obvious, which is good. I heard the soft whispers of the notes and was reminded of how unique the show had become. One must set aside the outrageousness of weekly plot points in order to watch successfully. This song reflects that. An upbeat tempo greatly sped up makes for true listening pleasure.

Soap opera fans are going to be pleased at the inclusion of the All My Children theme. It's piano only, which is probably the right way to portray the romance of a long running classic. Poignant is perhaps the best way to describe what I heard this time. A slow tempo shows off the skill of Stetch to take listeners to special times with Susan Lucci and her friends.

I liked Sanford and Son's piece very much. The bounce was around at the star, where it should be. However, it is slowed gown just enough to make me sit back, listen, and want even more. When it picked up again in the middle, the fun was brought into play.

Since this CD contains a dozen selections, there is bound to be something in it for everyone. Jazz aficionados will appreciate the fresh takes on the music generations have running through the minds. Those who enjoy the television industry should be able to find a favorite. Even kids have something to listen to, for two of these pieces are from cartoons.

More information on John Stetch can be found on his website.

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