Chase Music Group
California-based quartet Zzah steps out with a creative, adventurous spirit on Slippin' Free (Chase Music Group CMG SMD 8047; 57:23), building on a penchant for Latin rhythms and vibrant, guitar-based melodies. The varied tracks pull from that same, accessible center -- the off-kilter melody of "Covers Touch" and darkly moody "Slippin' Free" start with a walking Latin base, but move off in completely different directions. Fritz Carney's bass is another touchstone, providing a pretty, laconic counterpoint to dancing guitar on the ambient "Baroque," and a "Blue Bayou"-recalling hook on the gently gliding "Quiet Tropical Evening." The quartet clearly enjoys experimenting with mood and texture, creating some great effects on the otherworldly, swirling and spiraling "The Nebula," and crackling with percussion on "Northwest." The material is definitely unique, but remains accessible through the rock-solid melodic play of guitarist Rod Borges and pianist Richard Garoogian.