Reunion of Souls,
Reunion of Souls
(PureMusic, 2001)

The self-titled debut release of Reunion of Souls is classic jazz, plain and simple. This New York City group was the creation of two guitarists, Sheryl Bailey and Chris Bergson. Initially, the project was going to be a duo guitar recording. Ultimately, however, with the addition of Ashley Turner on bass and Sunny Jain on drums, Reunion of Souls was formed.

The CD is a collection of mostly original compositions by the various band members, with a few standards that have been re-worked a bit. With all nine tracks there is a feeling that you are listening to an improvisational jam session. Sometimes, an artists best work comes out when they let their fingers do the talking, so to speak.

Sheryl penned four of the selections found on Reunion of Souls. Her style is very distinct from her band members. "Velvet Hammer," "Homage," "Grace" and "Until the End of Never" all have a similar feel. While the tunes are "original," they do not sound particularly original to me. As I am sure you know, it is not possible to get two jazz musicians to play the same work and sound identical. Each will have some personal touch on the music. But you can listen to an artist's rendition and know it has a very familiar ring to it. That is how I relate to Sheryl's work. Her work might be original, but it sounds familiar. If familiarity breeds comfort, then you will find this a good thing. If you are looking for innovation, then it might not be.

Chris composed "From the Window." This tune is arguably the best selection out of the nine. The piece is rather long, clocking in at more than nine minutes. When I listen to the music, it truly sounds as if the band has let the spirit of the moment take over. They are in a groove where they know the sound is right and don't want the magic to end. Chris also arranged the reworking of "There's a Small Hotel," which closes out the CD with his signature.

Not to be left out, both Ashley and Sunny each contribute a selection. Ashley wrote the title track in such a manner that it grabs your attention at the onset before settling down to background music. "Scintilating Blue" is an upbeat peace that is one of the better selections on the CD. Perhaps Sunny should have contributed a few more compositions to the project.

Reunion of Souls debut is, according to the liner notes, "a must-have for guitarists and lovers of swinging, honest jazz." That might be true if you enjoy listening to a band in their infancy. But if you prefer a band with more maturity, the playing is a little tighter, and the music a little more emotionally engaging, then you might need to wait for the band's second or third release. There is definite potential, so let's hope they don't stop now.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 2 March 2002

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