Under cover of a killer 'real-life abstract' snapshot (hell if I know what's being photographed, and the piece appears to be layered, but it's a superb chunk of art from found sources) lies a an octet by a quartet, as the CD title avers, augmented by a horn section on half the tracks. Quartet Plus is nominally guitar centered but the real emphasis is on Mason Razavi's compositional skills rather than his excellence in fretsmanship. Every cut is written and arranged by the gent, and there's plenty of fare for connoisseurs of the mainstream, the progressive new wave, and fusion modes here, a meeting place for 50 years' worth of influences to meet and shake hands.
Razavi's charts are frequently written halfway between Gil Evans and Either/Orchestra with tons of nods to fusioneers through the years (Klaus Doldinger, Jasper van't Hof, Shakatak, Bob James, Brian Auger, Rippingtons, even Stomu Yamash'ta). His playing, though, tends mainly to the old George Benson School, carefully chosen notes predominating, rather than pyrotechnics and whizbangery. This is especially seen in all concerned in From Thoughts to Words, particularly highlighted in Dan Robbins' bowed and straightline basswork, Razavi's lyricism interleaving with Robbins' lower-register insights.
My favorite track is the 13:03 Mad Dance wherein everything that came before is intermixed for a prolonged neoclassical/jazz escapade as much sonic cartography as a collision of trad, neo-, and hybridized sounds. Razavi's first solo is reminiscent of something Jan Akkerman (Focus) might have composed and played in similar circumstances…a minute or two later becoming even more so but blent with Janne Schaeffer's early solo work. Throughout the CD, everyone turns in superb performances within deep structures, but I have to re-emphasize that Robbins is a killer bass player, a very adventurous fellow, as crucial to the final sound as Razavi's own highly educated playing and charts; in short: someone to be just as closely watched as Mason himself. If the guitarist loses his bass accompaniment here, he loses a lot, but if the two remain together, well…good God!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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