Barraco has an impressive lineage, diving in and out of famous and obscure bands with the ease of a dolphin. The Grateful Dead was quite aware of his talent, with Phil Lesh asking him to sit in on Lesh & Friends gigs. This led to Barraco's inclusion in the oddly named Q, plus a slate touring with the remaining Dead members, thence to New Earth Mud and the Dark Star Orchestra. In the 80s, he played keyboards for The Cosby Show before tripping into the Zen Tricksters. You hadn't heard of him? Well, neither had I, but this jumping jiving CD makes up for all that, a heady mixture of world, prog, rock, jazzy lounge, pop, and whatever struck the guy's fancy. For many reasons, the impression I keep getting is of the sort of music Adrian Belew should be making but isn't.
Stalwart sessioneer Jerry Marotta sits in on percussion and Barraco, handling all keyboards, has cadged a bunch of highly complementary and sympathetic creatives, especially violinist Todd Reynolds and guitarists Bob Freidman and Barry Sless. Barraco's also a pretty damn good vocalist, smooth and carefree, but it's his eclectic ivory tickling that's surprising. There's a good deal of it going on, seamlessly woven into each composition, such that one must listen carefully to appreciate the alternating complexities and tuneful restraints.
I caught the title Ride, Ride, Ride on the reverse cover and thought "Cool! Someone's finally covering the old JoJo Gunne tune!" but t'weren't so, I'm afraid. Instead, we get a very righteous cover of the same-titled Hunter / Lesh / Barraco song, bringing in elements of Rundgren-esque sophisticated pop with a jazzy middle eight. There are even reminiscences of fleeting novo-cabaret-lounge, such as Voudoris & Kahne occasionally produced, indicating a new wrinkle in what might very well go over on radio. On the other hand, I may be expecting too much of the audience. Barraco's tunes are deceptively complex not only in their finessy executions but also the many shifts of tone and color, mode and manner. One Dog Blues, for instance, waxes Sea Level-ish, putting yet another gift under the tree while simultaneously recalling the Gulfcoast breeziness of Jimmy Buffett. By the time we wends our way to the end of the ten cuts, we're ready to spin 'em again, eager to re-sample a cornucopia of music rarely cooked up like this any more.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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