Adam Holzman has played in the company of several heavyweights: He served as Miles Davis' musical director for four years, worked with Grover Washington Jr. and Wayne Shorter and he currently adds some sharp electric-keyboard work to Wallace Roney's band. Brave New World, his personal project for the past 10 years, resides in territory occupied by infectious melodies, slick grooves and tight arrangements.
"Maria Rain" moves along at a snaky, suspenseful pace, pushed by Holzman's Wurlitzer and texture from Alan Burroughs, who alternates guitar duties on the album with Mitch Stein. Aaron Heick's alto sax stands out with a bright tone similar to David Sanborn's. "The Telltale Heart"'s repetitive melody and backward alto solo make it engaging for similar reasons.
Sometimes, though, the group gets locked in a groove and spins its wheels. "Life on Mars" sticks with one line, with very slight countermelody and variation, for three minutes before Holzman finally breaks off into a solo. "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" is supposed to be a study in understatement, but here it sounds like a mere studio jam. Jazz doesn't have to be rocket science, but even simple ideas can use some refinement to express their feelings.