Arthur Lipner's Modern Vibe (Jazz-heads) is well named. Considering the nearly ubiquitous back beat-it is mercifully absent on "Flor de Lis," a pleasant, fast bossa, and modified on "Blue Tango," Lipner's best original-the overall sound is aggressively contemporary. Lipner's generally unimaginative writing is marked by lots of unison, on-beat and off-beat ensemble phrases, with their staccato lines doubled by the drums. His arrangements tend to be dragged down by the weight of the instrumentation-there's a strong reliance on electronics, like keyboardist Nick Bariluk's frequent use of a string choir patch.
The results are more pleasurable when Lipner deviates, allowing for Nelson Faria's nylon-string guitar on "Montanha Russa" and "Flor de Lis," Bariluk's switch to organ on Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Lipner's excellent marimba solo on "Blue Tango." There is no question about Lipner's proficiency on vibes; check out "Love the One You're With" and "Ain't No Sunshine." Too bad it competes with so much tame funk.