Rising Tide from jazz guitarist Frank Kohl is a continuous stream of jazz fusion interspersed with elements of smooth blues and easy listening swing. A combination of original tunes and jazz standards, the recording resonates a familiar lounge room that’s sonorous and likened to the works of Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer. For Kohl, playing jazz is not about being vanguard or treading off the beaten path but composing melodic motifs that branch off from existing models, taking listeners through a vista pollinated from the seeds of idioms developed in the past.
Warm and relaxing, Kohl’s music appeals to the cerebral senses, soothing the mind and putting listeners in a pacifying state. Tracks like “Richman Poorman” and “Late Night” articulate the nimble movements of Frank’s brother, pianist Tom Kohl, and the cool jazz arcs of bassist Steve LaSpina as drummer Jon Doty keeps an even keel in his drum strokes. The bossa nova sway of “With Tears of Joy” adds diversity into the recording with candlelight style guitar chords surrounded by rhumba-inspired piano lifts. “Rock and Roll” is taproom bliss featuring the easy listening swells of the Kohl brothers’ guitar and piano parts moving in unison and braiding into one another.
“Love Letters” continues the sonic bliss with the smooth blues tone of Kohl’s piano patterns woven into the lowlit guitar riff. The quartet’s rendition of Rodgers and Hart’s “My Romance” has an upward tilt supplemented by Doty’s brushed drums and Kohl’s guitar reflections. Moving along, the title track opens with an attractive guitar solo traveling into the breezy wisps assembled by the band members as they join him in the later bars. The melodic musings of the guitar are improvised through “Beautiful Love,” proliferating a cool swing splendor that produces a warm balm over the aural senses.
An amalgamation of classic jazz riffs and improvised musings, Rising Tide is smooth blues fusion of the caliber of Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer. The quartet interlocks melodic motifs, making for music that celebrates easy listening swing coupled with jazz fusion.
Frank Kohl – guitar, Tom Kohl – piano, Steve LaSpina – bass, Jon Doty – drums; special guest: Victor Young – guitar
“Rock and Roll,” “Rising Tide,” “With Tears of Joy,” “Richman Poorman,” “Love Letters,” “Late Night,” “My Romance,” “Beautiful Love”