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Jango: Dreamtown

It’s clear from the outset of Jango’s Dreamtown (Samson Music GCO 160; 51:52) that bandleader Steve Nieves (saxophone, vocals) wants to create a Steely Dan-type jazzy atmosphere, with upfront tenor vocal harmonies and light pop hooks. The band misses that high and difficult bar on weak, synthesized tunes like “City of the 2nd Chance” and “Message to Ramona,” with its goofy lyrics and odd harmony vocals. The pieces here are delivered far too sincerely to be perceived as playfully tongue-in-cheek. Fake snaps populate trite arrangements of solid melodies like “With Your Love” and “Driftin’,” reducing them to marshmallow fluff. An overdressed version of the familiar melody “How Long” is a good example of this technique, employing silly just-drank-a-Coke “ahhs” to add soul. More promising moments include the sprightly, guitar-driven “King’s Road,” which stays light and fun despite a still-repetitive groove.”

Originally Published