Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Project Garnd Slam's Appealing Spring Dance

Project Grand Slam, named after the plot to break into Fort Knox in the James Bond thriller Goldfinger, is a contemporary jazz-fusion group led by bassist Robert Miller, with saxophones and flute from Gilad Ronen and drums from Ron Thaler. On their new Cakewalk Records release Spring Dance, they are joined by Mike Eckroth on keyboards, Joye Hennesey on vocals; Danny Lerman on alto saxophone and Justin Smith on strings. 

The nine selections are mostly originals by either Miller or Ronen with the exception of a cover of the Hollies He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. There is nothing fancy here, just very melodic and bouncy performances with definite appeal to fans of such artists as Bob James, Grover Washington, The Crusaders, and Spyro Gyra. As a disclosure, I remember seeing Sypro Gyra regularly on Thursday Nights at Buffalo’s Tralfamadore Cafe in the mid-seventies when they played a variety of originals and always closed the night out with Sonny Rollins’ St. Thomas.

This listener heard some echoes of the theme from the TV show Taxi, on the title track, while Ma Petite Fleur, is a slow ballad with Ronen’s soprano stating the theme and establishing the winsome mood before Eckroth’s R&B-flavored piano solo. Vocalist Hennessey is showcased on the soulful Remember, with some nice playing by the rhythm, with an attractive tenor sax solo from Ronen and nice support from Miller and Thaler. After the bouncy Catch You Later, Ronen’s The Turn, displays a bit more reflective mood. Hennessey returns for the funky interpretation of The Hollies hit recording. 

The album closes with an instrumental version of “Remember,” which seems like filler. Even including it, the nine tracks on Spring Dance are a little over a half hour. This is nicely performed and recorded. While there is little deep or profound on this, it is a very entertaining recording with a definite appeal.

I was provided a review copy from a publicist.

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