"A Wonderful Thing" by Chicago-based composer/pianist Rob Ryndak features an variety of styles including Brazilian ("Rhythmic Nature", "Chisel"), Latin Jazz ( "Apophatic"), ballads ("A Wonderful Thing", "T. D.", "Quietude", "In My Arms"), a little New Age and Fusion work ("Purely Simple", "Hard Not To Notice"), some light Funk ("Childlike"), and some Reggae/Fusion ("Chasing Dreams"). Since the CD's own liner notes described the project as "Jazz-inspired", this writer had his fingers crossed when he popped it into the player. Fortunately, the quality of the musicians in the project and the caliber of their solo work made this fun to listen to. For example, three of Chicago's best Latin Jazz musicians, Tito Carrillo (trumpet), Rubén Alvarez (percussion) and Victor Gonzalez Jr (congas) bring credibility to the Brazilian and Latin Jazz tracks. Tito lays down some especially nice solos (along with saxophonist Geof Bradfield and guitarist Sasha Brusin) in the 7/4 Brazilian piece "Rhythmic Nature", and Rubén and Victor help make "Apophatic:" swing as a Latin Jazz piece. One of the highlights of the recording is the ballad/Latin Jazz piece "T.D." (in honor of the late Tara Davis), a quintet arrangement which features Rob on piano and Andrew Sole on drums with some beautiful saxophone (Geof Bradfield) and trumpet (Tito Carrillo) passages.
The ballad "Hard Not To Notice" is bassist Rob Kassinger's best contribution to the album as he converses with Geof Bradfield on sax. The closing track, "In My Arms", a bolero-inspired piece, features some lyrical flugelhorn (Tito Carrillo) passages.
"Chasing Dreams" uses a Reggae rhythm for the foundation and has some nice extended solos by Sasha Brusin on guitar and Geof Bradfield on sax.
A growing number of artists are producing CDs that are hard to label, and after hearing this front to back, this writer now understands why the album was labeled "Jazz-Inspired", since this is a mix of things rather than a full Jazz album per se. But the caliber of the solo work throughout puts this recording a few cuts above most of the projects that try to do something similar, and if you are in the mood for something laid back but intelligent, this is worth checking out.
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