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Love Press Ex-Curio

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Sep
Love Press Ex-Curio
Sounds like … contemporary jazz, evoking the likes of Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Les McCann, and Keith Jarrett, rendered with Peacock's indelible pop sensibilities.At a glance … an instrumental "modern post-bebop" jazz album probably isn't very marketable, but the veteran Christian artist has successfully made the album he's always wanted to make, and it's more broadly appealing than it might seem.Track Listing When Diana Dances Super Jet Service Dodo's Whim Be Well Johnny Cash Frank the Marxist Memorial Gong Blues Bucketachicken London Twist n' Turn Longing for Louis All or Nothing Grace

Sometimes, successful recording artists enter middle age burned out on the pop/rock that got them there, so they decide to indulge that less marketable side project they've always wanted to make. Joe Jackson and Billy Joel have written classical music, Elton John and Eddie DeGarmo have staged musicals, and Michael W. Smith has spent most of five years dabbling with film scoring and worship music. Having long flirted with jazz in his acclaimed 20-year career as an artist, songwriter, and producer, Charlie Peacock finally embraces his passion for the genre with Love Press Ex-Curio.

In the broad spectrum of jazz, this is more "modern post-bebop" than it is traditional, reminiscent of classics like John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, and Keith Jarrett, yet recorded with Peacock's polished pop production. Though occasionally teetering on smooth jazz ("When Diana Dances"), it's ultimately less "programmed" and more improvisational sounding (particularly "Longing for Louis"). "Super Jet Service" and "Bucketachicken" remain grounded in a slick pop groove, while "Be Well Johnny Cash" features the fabulous electric guitar of Kurt Rosenwinkel. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi and saxophonist Kirk Whalum also stand out in a long list of accomplished contributors, but Peacock too deserves recognition for his jazz piano skills, evidenced by the freeform "Dodo's Whim" and the more melodic "Frank the Marxist Memorial Gong Blues."

Yet despite Peacock's track record, some Christians will be skeptical about the spiritual value of an instrumental jazz album. With the exception of "All or Nothing Grace," the song titles are generally inspired by personal friendships and memories. Peacock shouldn't have to prove his faith here as much as demonstrate that he can successfully pull off a foray into jazz, which he does. Though he openly admits that he's not a jazz purist, it's precisely why this album may appeal to a broader audience. Besides, isn't jazz all about breaking from convention?

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