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Review: Love Press Ex-Curio

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Charlie Peacock has had a long and distinguished career as a pop and gospel songwriter, producer, and performer over the course of the past 20 years (let’s see, I think I saw him perform in Oklahoma City in either ’92 or ’93, and it was an entertaining and eclectic show; he’s subsequently gone on to work as a Grammy-award winning producer). His music has often been a touch off the beaten track, as he’s always had a penchant for adding elements – such as alternative rock, dance music or jazz – a bit before the curve. Love Press Ex-Curio marks quite a departure for him, however, as he shifts gears and dives headlong into a dose of funky jazz and improvised jam sessions.

Peacock cites as some of his “earliest influences” jazz legends like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and others. His enthusiasm for a unique fusion of classic riffs and urbanized techno backdrops is intriguing, to say the least. Joining him for the fun are an impressive crew: trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassists Victor Wooten and James Genus, saxophonists Kirk Whalum, Jeff Coffin, and Ravi Coltrane, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and drummer Joey Baron. The sessions also incorporated roles for “sonic manipulators” Myles Boisen and Gino Robair, the electronica of Tony Miracle and Kip Kubin (of Venus Hum), and Tower of Power organist Roger Smith.

Characterized as “freewheeling,” the songs on Love Press Ex-Curio are exactly that: loose, improvised, and unpredictable. “I’m not a jazz purist and I’m not going to pretend to be,” says Peacock. “I want to use everything I’ve learned producing records to make music that is well cared for but ultimately very free. I want to have improvisation and composition, but then treat those elements in the same way I would if I were trying to make a really interesting pop record.”

Peacock’s background producing and arranging music for Al Green, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Switchfoot, and a number of others is clearly demonstrated by the disc’s sound quality and production values; the sonic flavor is crisp and precise. It is an unusual album in that you’ll have the clarity of some classic jazz and then there will be some urban electronica overlaid over it. At the same time, however, I found it to be an entertaining and energetic mix. There’s a real enthusaism and playfulness to the music; it isn’t particularly heavy or dense, instead it sort of flits across the surface, dancing as it goes. I think Love Press Ex-Curio is a fun collection of improvised jazz, worth the listen if like music that doesn’t take itself seriously and is primarily about the joy that music can bring.

Author’s Note: This article was originally posted at Wallo World.

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