Trombone CDs are few and far between, only Germany seems to truly appreciate the instrument, so it was with anticipation that I found Doug Sertl's Beautiful Friendship, a quartet release, in the mail. It, however, arrives with a number of problems, not the least of which is a notably unbalanced mix. Sertl cites engineer David Baker as a "master engineer", but I couldn't disagree more. The levels are all wrong, putting the 'bone too much up front, everyone else recessed more than they should be, especially the Hammond B3…save for when the solos come up, which only more fully demonstrates all the disparities.
The only somewhat-correctly-recorded element is the drum kit, and even it's wanting. More, though I relish Sertl's playing, his backing band just isn't convincing. It's a bit maddening, as polished guitarist Steve Bernstein suffers from an ambiance that fails to ignite properly anywhere as well, a disjointedness gelding each song. Done right, Sertl's work would go very well on the Enja label or within a well documented combo, but this isn't either, and I have to say that the liner's mention of the fact that the disc was recorded in six hours in one day may well be the giveaway. Sometimes that sort of gig works beautifully but only if the band is well integrated. These guys just don't sound together and thus my suspicion is that this was more a slapdash affair than anything else.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles