Road Songs 2

28 June, 2017

Saxophonist-keyboardist Tim Gemmill is best known for his many projects with trumpeter-keyboardist Bob Cozzetti and for being an important part of the Seattle jazz scene for quite a few years. While Cozzetti is co-producer of Road Songs 2, as with the original Road Songs, Gemmill plays all of the instruments and wrote all but one of the songs.

Through overdubbing and expert use of such keyboards as the UltraProteus, the Memorymoog, the Prophecy, the Kawai, a drum synthesizer and inventive samplers, Tim Gemmill creates a digital orchestra. In his playing, one can hear not only keyboards but a guitar, powerful bass lines, drums, percussion and, on "Can You Read My Mind," wordless voices. The colorful music has a spontaneous feel yet was obviously well planned.

The opening "Proteus 2" sounds like as if it could serve as a soundtrack to a 1960s spy movie. It features an organ sound, an insistent bassline, a guitar solo, and very effective use of repetition. It is essentially hypnotic groove music, setting the stage for the rest of the project. "Moog Blues," which has the MemoryMoog in the spotlight, is a stretched-out blues with an attractive lead keyboard. It gradually becomes a bit eccentric and humorous as it progresses. "Groove On" utilizes a repeating bassline, keyboards playing polyrhythms, and interlocking melodic riffs, creating a celebratory feel in addition to being quite danceable.

"Domo Arigato" has unusual pauses in the playing that come up regularly but are still unexpected each time. "Super Cool" features some passionate bass playing along with a catchy melody. "A Little Something" has a simple and singable theme that is played over the rhythmic ensemble.

Road Songs 2 concludes with the one song not composed by Gemmill. "Can You Read My Mind," which was written by John Williams, is from the 1970s hit movie Superman. Originally a vocal ballad, it is transformed into a funky piece filled with five-note patterns and, although instrumental, it utilizes the sound of wordless singers.

All in all, Road Songs 2 is a colorful and consistently intriguing set that spotlights Tim Gemmill's compositions and talents as a keyboardist, growing in interest with each listen.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76.

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