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Gregory James Band: Come to Me

Gregory James also tries conceptually daring things on Come to Me (Rogue). He incorporates poetry from Alex White on “Valentine” and Craig Easley on “St. Alison”; adds cellos, violas, violins and three vocalists underneath wailing lines and programmed bass on “Come to Me”; and delves into Afro-Latin, funk, trip-hop, even flamenco on occasion. The better numbers include “Solo Contigo,” with James joined by tabla player Jason Lewis and percussionist Celia Malheiros as well as flutist Rita Thies and drummer Deszon Claiborne, and “Duet #1,” which has James accompanied only by Thies on shakuhachi flute. Catie Murphy’s readings on “Alphabet Town” add some verbal spice to James’ bluesy guitar, and he once more solos over strings and voices on “Tomorrow.” Because James veers in so many directions, he doesn’t always concentrate on his solos. Sometimes they sound like brief interludes designed only to move the work back to its main melody, while other times there are periods of aimless noodling or riffing. But when he gives himself ample opportunity, Gregory James demonstrates he can play with depth and conviction. Though this disc has its erratic moments, there are plenty of memorable ones as well, and even the flawed tunes catch your ear.

Originally Published