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CD Review
George Avaloz
"The Trick Bag"
Avaloz 41244
by Kurt Koehler
Local jazz drummer and vocalist, George Avaloz' new release features just nine cuts, but is not short on music in either minutes or talented execution. The shortest tune is 3:22 while the longest is a hefty 10:15 and it's just right. There's a lot of music here. Starting out the set is the title song, Wes Montgomery's "The Trick Bag" (7:00). It's the perfect tone setter for the rest of this fine recording. Some of which really smokes, such as "Bird Lives" and "Firm Roots" with rousing tempos and exacting melodies.

Joining George is a core band that features heavyweights; Jerry Berg on tenor sax, Jerry Rush on trumpet, Mikkel Romstad on piano, and pooch Heine on bass. Filling in is an impressive array of stand in players on the sixth cut, "Centipede" (10:15), which has a really quick tempo and a decidedly Latin feel. Terrific.

Throughout the CD, George seems just a little out front on his drums, supported by the rest of the band - a kind of very subtle role reversal that showcases George's playing but doesn't put him above the mix. Avaloz does the singing on three tracks including the challenging Billy Eckstine number "I Want to Talk About You" and Billy Strayhorn's slow classic, "Lush Life." Debbie Duncan brings her wonderful vocals to join George in a duet on the final track, "That Day" by Monty Waters. It's the perfect end to the set.

This CD was recorded at Phoenix Sound in St. Paul, but it has a distinctive live quality to the sound, which I found very pleasing. (Available in local stores).

This review is copyright 1998 by Kurt Koehler, all rights reserved.

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.