Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Chris Shahin Band - Left Of Centerdotdotdotdot
artworkWell I'm impressed. Chris Shahin's last CD was excellent. His performance at El Niño Break amazed the audience. This rises to another level. Very well developed and well mixed, with artful writing, and plenty of perfect imagery. There's more jazz than surf, yet the connection the genre had right from the beginning through the early surf films and the influence of west coast jazz artists on the players of the day continues. Some very surfable tracks, and a solid slab of impressive and very listenable music. The version of "Sleep Walk" here is about as good as it gets. Recommended, unless you're a trad nazi afraid of a different break.
Picks: MacPhearson Strut, Cervesa, Little Italy, Sunday, Elegy, Red Sky Arizona, Point, Meltdown, Sleep Walk, Oil, Edita, Myopia, Full Bloom, In The Tradition, The Final Hour, Meltdown, Untitled

Track by Track Review


MacPhearson Strut dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

"MacPhearson Strut" sports a sultry groove in an almost Italian movie theme way, with a soft sway and funky bass line. The organ is just below the conscious level, providing an R&B flavor to the ambiance, while the saucy sax leads the way. Very suave.

Cervesa dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

A great spunky rhythm, a Spaniard in Egypt feel to the melody, and a very smooth delivery here. "Cervesa" flows over the senses like Pacifico on a hot day. Excellent in every way, perfect for an afternooner on the verandah under the swaying palms. Warm and infectious. The guitar tone is soft, yet demands attention. Melodic and fluid, with very cool exotic percussion.

Little Italy dotdotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

The surfy guitar speaks of sleepy fishing villages and afternoons on the bay. The delicate double picking is very picturesque, as is the exquisite plectrum work. It's surfy, jazzy, and very infectious. The midsection drift into heavy fuzz and monster danger is quite a contrast. The transition is almost silky, both in and out of the bridge. Gorgeous!

Sunday dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

The guitar-horn harmony duet is an interesting trip. The organ gets to take a lead in a funky Jimmy Smith kinda way. This is one Smokey Joe of a tune, with a real soul club feel feel.

Elegy dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and smooth, like a Miles Corbin afternoon breeze, this uses a distant fuzz and sweet violin in the forefront to create an eerie sense of forlorn. It's both sad and exotic, and certainly smooth. Slightly reminiscent of the Blues Project's "Niartaes Hornpipe" slowed way down, "Elegy" definitely is an excursion in uncharted territory. Very cool!

Red Sky Arizona dotdotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Oooo... soooo smooth and haunting, fuzzed and dramatic, melodic and bold. "Red Sky Arizona" conjures exactly the image of its title. Very pretty, yet frontier dangerous. Most satisfying. The horn provides a perfect counterpoint to the excellent guitar work. Surfy, desert air clean, and magnificent!

Point dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

"Point" brought quite a grin to my home spun mug. Its playful jerkiness and smooth transitions are a delight. Short and sweet.

Meltdown dotdotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

If ever you've watch bar solder slowly melting into a solder pot, you will immediately understand this tune. It relays the contrast between the loss of the bar-self and the gain of the rising pool. Funky bass, bits of wah wah, some groovy flows, and a sensual and mysterious atmosphere. Quite a nice track.

Sleep Walk dotdotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Santo and Johnny surely didn't mean this. Chris Shahin and company deliver this with more silk and romance than just about anyone. Beautiful spread out chords and shimmer transfix your soul. This delivers the promise and more. Even when Chris' guitar powers up for the break, it retains its stunning prowess. Gorgeous!

Oil dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

Was it Curly that said "the oily boid gets the woim?" No worms here, just a slippery and fluid meander through the colored oils of early lights shows, the spirit of Charles Lloyd at the Fillmore with the soul of the bebop legends. Smooth and nearly liquid.

Edita dotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

A, afternoon summer breeze acoustic guitar piece with a beautiful sound and gentle way about it. "Edita" sounds like it must be a tribute to a lady just out of reach. Quite moving.

Myopia dotdotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

A stereo modulated guitar solo opens "Myopia" just before the shimmering song comes in and takes charge. It's fluid and melodic, pleasing and fresh. A semi moody riff and spunky rhythm give this exotic piece an edge, as do the higher powered middle verses. The guitar-horn duet works well here for sure. Excellent horn solo. Very tasty.

Full Bloom dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Silky and moody, "Full Bloom" is a very moving piece, with gauze enhance imagery, like cameramen of old used to soften and mystify the starlets of those old black and whites. Quite romantic and very fluid. A pleasure to listen to.

In The Tradition dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

With one foot in the early roots of jazz and one in the forties, this soulful swinger experiments with the genre, nods to the creators, then messes with their minds. Great drums, and unique musical meanderings.

The Final Hour dotdotdot
Funeral Jazz (Instrumental)

A dirge for the passing, with images of the wait and the subsequent march to the last station. It's sad and respectful, sporting the drama of a gangster's funeral in a Francis Ford Coppola epic. Way cool, especially the violin.

Meltdown dotdotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

If ever you've watch bar solder slowly melting into a solder pot, you will immediately understand this tune. It relays the contrast between the loss of the bar-self and the gain of the rising pool. Funky bass, bits of wah wah, some groovy flows, and a sensual and mysterious atmosphere. Quite a nice track.

Untitled dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Out past the 6:17 mark on track 16 lies a sparkling and moving piece that has the kind of aural vision presented in Charles Lloyd's "Pyramid" with less excursionary diversion and more focused middleastern imagery. Short and very nice.