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Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers: Chemistry

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Three recent jazz-violin releases, taken together, prove that jazz doesn’t care what instrument you play as long as you play it well. Zach Brock and SavoirFaire each go further afield stylistically than Diane Delin does, but her mastery of her aesthetic allows her album to beat their spottier outings.

Brock’s second album with the Coffee Achievers, Chemistry, brews up a cheery blend of jazz and pop-rock. Bright, comfortable melodies yield to precomposed thematic elaborations and solos, all played with great energy (as one might expect from the group’s name). Brock plays a regular violin and a five-string electric violin. He occasionally and entertainingly wields the latter in the manner of a rock god, while the keyboards of Sam Barsh and the acoustic and electric basses of Matt Wigton provide similarly novel timbres. But once the Coffee Achievers have established a melody, they seem content to stay close to it over extended periods, which makes their music appear to be searching in vain for direction. The one exception, “This Is Just,” uses postmodern lyrics and turn-on-a-dime music to tell a story; if Brock could serve more complex compounds like that, he’d have a headier brew on his hands.

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