Andy Summers

    Earth and Sky

    6
    Goldenwire - March 16, 2004

    Sting tickets are currently selling for up to $400 on eBay. His stadium tour in support of his last mega-selling album, Sacred Love, is one of the hottest tickets of the summer. And this guy was just a bass player. But while the one-named celebrity has been making middle-aged women swoon over his uber-polished vocal pop records, former Police bandmate Andy Summers has been dropping jazz albums left and right. And while he’s proven himself as a fantastic guitar player — both during and after his stint in the Police — Earth + Sky is arguably his best yet.

    [more:]

    Summers’s skills have never been so sharp, and his compositions (incubating while his past two albums simply reworked Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk) sound careful and deliberate. His experience in a pop-rock band has served him well; Summers has a definite knack for melody and song structure, keeping themes in the foreground and improvised sections to a functional minimum.

    His explorative nature pushes this record past the bar set by most of his earlier solo work. Genres are tossed about randomly, with standard hotel-lobby jazz tunes like “The Diva Station” thrown in next to the finger-picked, classical-sounding “Parallels” and borderline rockers like the title track.

    As great a leap forward Earth + Sky is for Summers, it treads little new ground for guitar-based jazz. Most all of the standard-bearers of jazz guitar today (namely John Scofield and Pat Metheny) tend to dabble in a variety of styles: rock, funk, reggae, or classical. Though Summers has more legitimate rock experience than today’s jazz pros, it only peeks through on this album in a few key spots. The generic, synth-heavy production and use of only session players — though fantastic ones, at that — don’t help to distinguish Earth + Sky either. Regardless, the record is an enjoyable one, laced with adept guitar playing and equally memorable tunes.

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