Erik Deutsch | Hush Money

Hammer and String
By JON GARELICK  |  November 25, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars

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Having played in projects from jam bands to jazz and as a singer-songwriter accompanist (Fat Mama, Charlie Hunter, Ron Miles, Erin McKeown), keyboardist Erik Deutsch led an acoustic jazz album for his debut (2006’s Fingerprints). Here he says he’s going for something “atmospheric,” occasionally giving the lead-melody voices to clarinet and bassoon and loading on every keyboard in his garage.

How, then, to explain the extroverted straight-up Memphis horn arrangements on “Dirty Osso Bucco” and “Quittin’ Time” (the latter seeming to steal the riff from Al Kooper’s “I Can’t Quit Her”)? So it may take a couple of spins to sink into this disc and accept it as a cohesive, cinematic whole. (There’s barely a pause from track to track.)

The flitting oscillations of a vintage synth don’t seem to help. Neither does the mawkish movie-romance title tune. On the other hand, there’s the Latin groove and subtle arrangement of “Black Flies,” with its electric guitar rave-up, and the slow, moody “Hearts for a Purple Lion,” with its extended flute and bassoon solos, thumpity-thump rhythm, and deep-satisfying cadence. And the free duet for clarinet and bassoon on “Incandescence.” And the motorik Afro-funk of “India Rubber,” with its hefty doses of tenor sax. And those kickin’ funk numbers.

ERIK DEUTSCH WITH DANIEL BENNETT | Beehive, 541 Tremont St, Boston | December 1 at 8 pm | Free | 617.423.0069 or www.beehiveboston.com

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