Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Chris Shahin Band - The Tenth Degreedotdotdotdot
artworkFinally, the Chris Shahin band comes out of the shadows of surf rumor and jazz venues into the light of an official release. This is a most unusual jazz based surf influenced band. The wonderful and unusual blend comes from a different angle than previously explored. Others have taken jazz into their surf as an influence. Only Australia's GT Stringer have come from a jazz foundation to approach surf, and they are longboarders. Chris Shahin's band is made up of talented and experienced jazz musicians with a fascination for the reverb, a desire to use the melodic sense of surf and influence their jazz with it. In the sixties, there was the promise not kept of Kenny Burrell and Kai Winding. 30 years later, that which was only hinted at has been brought to fruition by four talented players. Chris has written and arranged all the tracks. This is a highly melodic, mood setting, and highly enjoyable CD. It is not trad, it is a new and mature approach, well worth a side-trip. If the Aqua Velvets or GT Stringer hold a fascination for you, this will surely please.
Picks: The Industrial Juggernaut, Surf's Down, Los 'Los, Emancipate This Water Planet, Surf, Don't Run, Psychic Friends, Baroque Again, Baja Cactus, Agent 99, The Tenth Degree, Chime, Americana, Baja Cactus (Restaurant Remix)

Track by Track Review

The Industrial Juggernaut dotdotdotdotdot
Industrial Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

This is easily the edgiest of the tracks here. It opens with feedback and shimmer, and a clear sense of impending power. What it yields to is melodic and fresh song, with the guitar and sax in harmony over a solid drum track, and supported by a finely artistic bass. It is minor key romantic-sad, and very pretty. It has some very good changes, and if quite an infectious track. It requires paying attention. You're not going to mindlessly pogo in your neighbor's face, you're going to sway and grin a satisfied sensation.

Surf's Down dotdotdotdot
Evening Surf (Instrumental)

Slower paced, more gently evolved, this track gives forth a vision of Cowell's after sunset from the Tiki Room at the former Dream Inn, over a glass of gerwurztraminer with a lady in a black gown that was in a lime-on-grey wetsuit only an hour ago. Very smooth and moving. No doubt about the watery element, and clearly fitting for a jazz club as well.

Los 'Los dotdotdotdot
Playful Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very playful tune, with Latin sensibilities, both in the melody structure and the percussion. It's quite perfectly crafted, slitheringly appealing, and sweetly produced. Where other jazz artists overdue the jazz noodle, this employs blue jazz rigatoni, which is my way of saying mindless noodling is boring and just fills the void created when no melody is present, while truly well written meanderings within the key is a magical thing. Fine track.

Emancipate This Water Planet dotdotdot
Dinner Surf Moody (Instrumental)

Very smooth, soft and moody, almost Aqua Velvets like.

Surf, Don't Run dotdotdotdot
Arts & Croissants Surf (Instrumental)

A song with a rhythmic yet fluid structure, a mildly dramatic, tastefully artistic, arts and croissants accompaniment. The sophistication is this song's primary color, while it's melodic strength is complimented by it's basis in fine acoustic traditions. Beautiful and happy.

Psychic Friends dotdotdot
Dinner Surf Spy Jazz (Instrumental)

Quirky clean jazzy blues influenced tune with a gentle precision. The image that comes to mind is of a guy sitting on a stool in the corner of a restaurant with a view of the harbor playing surf the way a jazz musician would play for the dinner crowd. Behold the birth of Dinner Surf.

Baroque Again dotdotdotdot
Classical Surf (Instrumental)

A baroque structure, sensitively and precisely delivered. Imagine Corky Carroll doin' the minuet while Simon House (High Tide / Hawkwind / Michael Moorcock & the Deep Fix / Spiral Realms / Nik Turner) waxed eloquent through his violin. It is that kind of delicate beauty, but is strained through the fine guitar and sax twin leads. Classical and modern. The only band doing music anything like this is Canada's Les Baronics. This seques right into Baja Cactus.

Baja Cactus dotdotdot
Dinner Surf Southwest Desert Jazz (Instrumental)

Burrito, my horse, dubbed this Southwest Serape Surf Jazz.

Agent 99 dotdotdot
Surf Dinner Surf Spy Kraut Rock (Instrumental)

A very laid back soundtrackish number, beautiful and flowing, like some of the more artful Kraut Rock from the dawn of progressive. In spots, you can hear the compressors breathe.

The Tenth Degree dotdotdotdot
Castilian Classical Surf (Instrumental)

Chris accompanies himself on classical guitar, creating visions of a Castilian afternoon, a border town verandah, and a sense of relaxed anticipation.

Chime dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

If track defined the linkage between surf and jazz, and explains why every other track here has such a clear sense of the sea, no matter how distant from the beach it's soundscape was. This brings it all together undeniably. Surf and a funky underbelly, and a really fine surf melody. The best here.

Americana dotdotdotdot
Norman Rockwell Surf (Instrumental)

The tines and the almost acoustic guitar, coupled with the melody and pace, deliver Norman Rockwell's America, as seen through the rose colored glasses of sophisticated ladies. It approaches dramatic power, but achieves so much more via it's understatement. Less is more in this brilliant number.

Baja Cactus (Restaurant Remix) dotdotdotdot
Dinner Surf (Instrumental)

Like the title says, this is a different version of Baja Cactus, which clearly spell out the dinner surf connection. It should be the backdrop to a playful dinner scene in a Bruce Brown film. The flamenco percussion, and the Latin lover pacing and pauses combine to create a great track. Waiter, where's my chimichonga?