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Andy Summers: The X Tracks

Andy Summers likes to name-drop. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. It’s just that his notes for The X Tracks seem so self-satisfied, as he recalls recording and dining with Herbie Hancock, rapper Q-Tip and Debbie Harry.

The once and forever Police guitarist will never be a mere hanger-on, but the tracks collected from four recent solo albums indicate that despite impeccable taste and tone, he often fumbles when he takes a shot at jazz-at least when playing someone else’s music.

Two of his albums paid tribute to Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus, respectively. “Ruby My Dear,” on solo acoustic guitar, proves Summers has a deep appreciation and understanding of this music. Sting keeps his ego in check, and “‘Round Midnight” sounds strong and not like just another version of an overplayed classic. Q-Tip reads a Mingus text over “Pork Pie Hat,” and the combination works. But a smooth backbeat kills “Boogie Stop Shuffle.” “Weird Nightmare,” sung by Harry, sounds like power ballad from a James Bond film.

The originals that bookend the disc-“Big Thing” and “Earth & Sky”-sound more convincing, leaning more toward muscular progressive rock with jazz improvisation.

Originally Published