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April 2009

Vibes Alive
After Hours
SwingDing

Great music often flies under the radar. An excellent example is Vibes Alive’s After Hours, the second CD by vibist Dirk Richter and guitarist Randall Crissman. The 11-song CD, mastered by Bernie Grundman, is lucky enough to have Jeff Lorber on eight of them. Lorber fans will dig the CD just for his various jaunts on synth and Wurlitzer electric piano. The tracks, save for two, swing in a contemporary jazz fashion that should find favor with casual listeners. Indeed, the title track even dented smooth-jazz radio, nothing to scoff at during this time of squeezed playlists.

The best tunes are the ones with spirit: “Lunch Truck,” for example. Richter’s vibes run over Gary Meek’s sax lines, while Lorber struts in the background with his synth bleeps and solos. Richter, of course, gets plenty of chances to play at warp speed, most noticeably on the fiery “Sambahia.” The two songs that display some muscle, “Bright Lights” and “Blew Blues,” are distinctive in their display of Crissman’s sizzling electric guitar work. The latter, especially, is the jazziest slice on the CD, with a walking bassline, workouts from Lorber and Meek and, of course, more of Crissman’s blistering runs on the fretboard.

Originally published in April 2009
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