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March 2005

Darren Barrett
The Attack of Wren
Nagel-Heyer

Darren Barrett focused more on traditional jazz approaches on his previous albums. For The Attack of Wren (Nagel-Hayer), however, he created all the basic tracks using the computer programs Reason, Logic and Pro Tools. Then he invited a slew of guests to flesh out the sound: brothers Tony (guitars) and Collin (bass), saxophonists Walter Smith, Myron Walden, Joseph Omicil and bassists Wesley Wirth and Jeremiah Landess. Barrett-who is credited as Wren for his programming work-also plays flugelhorn and the Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI) as well as trumpet. His writing doesn't prioritize a groove over melody, which makes much of Attack appropriate for the dance floor and radio. All of these musicians, Smith and Walden especially, contribute impressive solos, but the CD's problem is the preprogrammed rhythm tracks, which sound groovy in the opening moments of each song and then quickly grow stiff because they can't respond and move with the horn players. And the James Brown-inspired "Ow!" that pops up every few bars on "Until I See You" gets old real quickly.

Originally published in March 2005
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