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December 2006

Mitchel Forman
Perspectives

This album has so many shortcomings, it’s hard to know where to begin listing them.

There is the congealed, harsh, airless recorded sound.

There is the mind-numbing metric monotony created by drummer Ray Brinker and percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

There is all the artificial silliness emanating from leader Mitchel Forman’s various electronic keyboard devices: synthesized sound carpets, bird calls, programmed beats, burps, squeals. This music is so vacuous and inorganic, even Forman’s acoustic piano sounds computer-generated.

There is the trivialization of material from sources like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and Keith Jarrett, either through brash heavy-handedness or soft, saccharine simplification.

Finally, there are some of the most reductive “jazz” interpretations of Lennon/McCartney on record. The melodic delicacy of “Here, There and Everywhere” is turned stiff and wooden. “Michelle” is diminished to electronic Muzak.

The song that would seem the most vulnerable to sentimentality, “What A Wonderful World,” is the best. Forman takes it solo on acoustic piano and discovers it for himself gradually, in hesitant, thoughtful forays that convey genuine adult feeling. When he clears away all the clutter and plays music, Forman is capable of solid, expressive work.

Originally published in December 2006
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