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Jon Gordon

Stranger Than Fiction

Review by Gary Hill

This is one of those releases that sort of skirts the line between fusion and more mainstream jazz. Ultimately, I think that some of the tracks that come in closer to Rock In Opposition, and the fact that even a lot of the more mainstream pieces have a tendency to wander toward that angle, land this under the fusion heading. That means we put it under progressive rock. Still, no matter how you label this, the music here is compelling and intriguing.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Pointillism
Odd little jabs of horn bring this into being. As it grows outward with other instruments joining, it takes on a freeform sound and structure. It is very busy and active. This gets into more melodic and formatted music as it continues. It's still crazed and edgy, though. There is s sense of danger and menace to this.
Havens
Now, this is more of a mainstream jazz number. It has more of a pure melodic approach. It's a powerhouse packed with energy and style, though. It does work out toward more crazed jamming as it marches forward. A piano led movement later takes it in some cool directions. It works out into some powerhouse fusion as it continues to explore the sonic territory beyond that point.
Stranger Than Fiction
The bass on this cut just oozes cool. The track has more of a traditional jazz vibe as it gets underway, but it wanders at times into more experimental zones. There is a cool and crazed piano solo later in this track.
Dance
I really dig some of the soaring melodies on this cut. It has a great energy and really works so well. I really dig the piano solo section on this thing. The whole tune is great, though. It sticks closer to the more mainstream jazz territory, but it isn't lacking anything because of it.
Sunyasin
Piano starts this and holds it for a time. The other instruments join after a time and this becomes one of the more experimental fusion based numbers here. It has some non-lyrical female vocals. It's a brief track.
Counterpoint
There is a dramatic building process as this gets underway. This piece works into more traditional jazz directions as it continues.
Bella
Coming in more balladic, this number is a classy and slow moving one. That said, this does get more energetic for a while. It's definitely on the more melodic and traditional end of the equation, though. It's also a very effective piece of music. I really love the bass solo section.
Modality
The tasty jazz stylings on this have a lot of drama and magic to them. This is less fusion and more traditional jazz, but it is also potent stuff. This really grooves with a lot of style and covers plenty of musical territory as it does.
Steps
This is a brief piece that serves as sort of a connector or interlude. It is more mainstream jazz and does feel like climbing steps.
Waking Dream

Now, the fusion is full on display here. Much of this has the freeform kind of almost Rock In Opposition style that we saw on the opening cut. This is dramatic and powerful.

 
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