New Age music with flamenco overtones and bases forms the spine of this very pleasant but not terribly driving CD. Think of EKO, Cusco, and a lot of Higher Octave releases or any number of restaurant foyer music refrains you've heard as you lark about of an evening, and you're in the ballpark. Guitarist Richard Hecks and keyboardist Helmut Graebe anchor the ensemble, which now appears to be a quartet with a couple of sit-ins. With three quite successful previous releases over the last so many years, this band isn't hurting for exposure, nor is it difficult to see why they'd be taken in by those who like this mode.
Listening to Provence immediately brought back refrains of Ralf Illenberger, Ottmar Liebert, and others who fused soft Romantic-Impressionist environments into tamed-down jazz, blues, and other styles. Thus, when you read that Hecks plays a flamenco guitar, don't bring Paco de Lucia or any of the DiMeola type speedsters to mind 'cause you won't be getting them. The idea is to relax and subsume, not jump up and fast-pace the dance floor. On the other hand, Mistral has the refined swing and pulse of a Supertramp song with a bit of Sky thrown in for classical elements.
Chet Baker would've loved this kind of stuff, I'm guessing, were he born in later days, and Charlie Byrd, among others, made a name for himself pursuing it, so, especially when the composers pen their material with discretion, Provence is going to appeal to the mellow music coterie. Chopin peeks in here and there, as well as Handel, but never so intrusively that you wonder if you've picked up a K-Tel release by accident. In all, a bit of the bracing, a truckload of laid back soma, and some E-Z Classical, but don't expect to get too excited.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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