Kyle Hollingsworth, keyboardist/pianist for The String Cheese Incident, has released a solo album , Never Odd Or Even. The album is a masterful collection of acid jazz groove tunes, with significant influences from various sources like Chick Corea, Brian Eno, Little Feat, the Grateful Dead and more.
The band, with their interminable On The Road series of CDs, had their last studio album in 2003 - "Untying The Not", a moody, jazz-rock set. The abilities of Kyle were possibly masked by the skillful cohesion of the band. The solo album gives him free rein to showcase his ivory-tapping skills. A back-to-the roots effort for the Boulder, CO native, it features a variety of guest talent, including members of SCI.
This album is more consistent tonally than Untying The Not, which combined, rock, blues, bluegrass and jazz. The brief prelude sets the theme. Titled "Prevolution," it features Indian classical vocals, a musical form remarkably like jazz in its use of improvisation and structure to evoke emotion.
This song blends into the next, as do most songs in the album. This is not an album to be listened to on random shuffle. The mood changes are subtle, yet significant, between songs and the album as a whole forms a palindrome, tonally, like its title.
"The Crusade" is a jaunty number, with a catchy beat and a saxophone chorus. The keyboard is quite muted, until at one point it takes over and the composition shifts into high gear. Harkening back to early jazz/funk it samples some of the same in the middle section of the song.
"Seventh Step" begins with a slow-paced, staccato rhythm. It retains this style, even as the tempo builds up and the steel guitar takes over. This song is a staple on The String Cheese Incident road shows.
"The Bridge" is a gospel-laced, easy-going number. It has some excellent pedal steel guitar work by virtuoso Robert Randolph. It recreates the fervor of classic blues tracks, almost as if we were in a little shanty church somewhere in the South, swaying to the beat.
"The Preacher" goes even deeper into deep south, Gospel revival territory, with a fast-paced beat, a rousing radio preacher vocalizing lustily, and demanding we "satisfy the sense of seeing and feeling before we are convinced." By far one of the best jazz songs ever, in my humble opinion, it holds together competing tonal moods, not letting the listener forget "the forces of the universe" - a true rendition of faith, as it were.