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Music Review: Rob Thorsen – Lasting Impression

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San Diego has emerged as a hot scene for contemporary jazz artists, particularly those combining traditional, world, and even classical touches with modern sounds. Rob Thorsen, a bassist who has performed with such artists as Kenny Burrell, Louis Bellson, Jon Hendricks, and James Moody, makes no secret of his San Diego association on Lasting Impression. The album encompasses both original compositions and standards, with Thorsen incorporating Latin tempos on many tracks.

Traditional jazz fans will find Thorsen's take on several standards interesting. For example, Thorsen retools John Coltrane's classic “Giant Steps” with a Latin tempo, while Charlie Chaplin's “Smile” is given a Latin-infused makeover, with Thorsen's upright bass serving as anchor for the beat. “The Man I Love,” a George Gershwin composition, benefits the most from the world music arrangement. While the melody is ever-present, the Cuban percussion and piercing trumpet solos lends an additional dimension to the song. “It's All Right with Me” also receives an uptempo treatment, while at the same time demonstrating the easy give-and-take among Thorsen and his bandmates.

Other tracks bow to be-bop, particularly Charlie Parker's “Dexterity” (another standout track, featuring a New Orleans-influenced rhythm) and saxophonist Jackie McLean's “Little Melonae.”

Rob Thorsen Some of Thorsen's original compositions also appear on Lasting Impression, with his Latin interest dominating many of the songs. “Milagro Café” and “Cigarones” draw their inspiration from Thorsen's trips to Costa Rica, and attempt to capture the environment in sound. The result is a pleasant detour in Latin jazz. “Dance of the Freaky Circles” best illustrates the San Diego characteristic of creating contemporary jazz steeped in traditional rhythms, this time a fast waltz.

 The final song, “Wish on Us,” features Thorsen's unaccompanied bass, allowing the listener to more fully experience his musical skills.

 Much of Lasting Impression leads the listener on a pleasant journey through San Diego's contemporary jazz scene, and further demonstrates the talent emerging from that city. Thorsen's unique takes on standards is to be applauded, as they lend another perspective on often-covered songs. Finally, his generosity toward fellow musicians allows the spotlight to shine on his very capable bandmates.

 For more information on Rob Thorsen, visit his official website and MySpace page. To learn more about San Diego's jazz artists, go to Pacific Coast Jazz's site.

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