Album Review: Magic Ensemble, Quasimode, 2011

This snappy quartet can push out driving, frenetic jazz in the vein of the 60s masters. Some tracks are reminiscent of those classic Blue Note reissues of geniuses like Hank Mobley and Art Blakey. This album has loads of fast-paced, thrilling tunes that are technically perfect in timing and musicianship. But something is missing…perhaps the ebb and flow of more seasoned jazz performances that take the listener on a journey. These guys take you on a drive in a supercar and never slows down.

There are down tempo tracks but they are not as strong melodically or instrumentally. The guest vocals are hit and miss but there is something endearing about the blend of Japanese and English lyrics on “Music Can Change the World.”

Still, this album is worth checking out, if only for the instant thrill you get from some of the turbo-charged tracks. “Naghol Jumping” could have been a 70’s TV show theme song a la Hawaii Five-O. Good for a few laps around the island in your Ferrari!

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