I Can See Heaven From Here
A veteran of Broadway musicals and Eartha Kitt tours, drummer-composer Howee Gordon shows his range with The Gordon Project's I Can See Heaven From Here (Koch Jazz KOC-CD-7874; 53:57). Gordon's stage background comes across in witty, frothy pieces like "In the Mode," a strutting, pounding takeoff on "In the Mood," featuring cool keyboard doodles and trumpet blasts lighting the fire. He hits a pulsing, Rippingtons-like smooth jazz vibe on "Dunhill Blues," and leads a bubbly, swinging journey on "The Charlatan," buoyed by Jim West's piano and Peter Anderson's warm, wandering alto sax. Somewhat surprisingly, the weaker moments of this mixed collection are its vocal tracks. Featured crooner Elysa Sunshine, drenched in echo and reverb effects, is lost in the weird keyboards of "Moonbeams" and left adrift by the lyrics of "That Kiss," which works much better as an instrumental. In its element, however, Gordon's ensemble can kick back and rock-the tricky-timed, country-fried fusion "Howdy Blues," for example, is worth the price of admission on its own.