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Gregory James Band: Reincarnation

On Reincarnation (Rogue Records), the Gregory James Band seems to fall short of its highbrow-hip aspirations. Guitarist James leads a large group of specialty players on artsy (and often interesting) setups that either fail to develop melodically or throw in one too many “experimental” elements. In the first category are such pieces as the atmospheric title track, which layers the soft keyboard tones and bass blurbs of light R&B with gently fingered guitar and flute for an eerie effect-but one that just sits there and doesn’t go anywhere. Likewise, “Blues for Chas” wastes a neat skeletal structure of rolling, talking drums and bent blue guitar when an odd keyboard cloud floats in. The second category of odd, if admirably attempted, contrasting elements includes “For the Ride,” with retro keyboard played against a spoken voice whispering “boom…crash…boom, boom…crash” and “If Not Now, When?” with a soft urban keyboard palette and delicate guitar work feeling oddly matched rather than integrated. The most head-scratching element here is a dispassionate spoken-word “reading” in a deadpan voice clunking across the Far East textures of “The Awakening.”

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