Various Artists - The Body Acoustic 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Jerry Del Colliano   
Tuesday, 27 April 2004

David Chesky and Friends

The Body Acoustic
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Chesky Records
release year: 2004
performance: 7.5
sound 9.5
reviewed by: Jerry Del Colliano

Just last week, I was talking with U.K. writer Richard Elen about the sonic differences between all of the current audio media (DVD-Audio, SACD, etc.) and he eloquently pointed out to me, “You know, CDs can still sound pretty great if the right amount of attention is given to the recording, mix and mastering.” He is right. Although I prefer to now listen to the new formats when possible, the first disc I thought of was The Body Acoustic, which I picked up from audiophile record producer David Chesky at the Consumer Electronics Show this past January.

The Body Acoustic is not too dissimilar to the “jam band” concept that we reviewed recently with the DTS surround sound release of Medeski Martin and Wood, as Chesky’s group of players follow their musical hearts from the beginning to the end of a journey that really has no road map. The instrumentation is slightly spicier than you might expect from a more traditional jazz ensemble. Randy Brecker squeaks out many of the melodies on the trumpet, while Chesky glues the musical ideas together on the piano. Andy Gonzalez handles the bass and involves himself in compelling interplay with Bob Mintzer on the bass clarinet. A spicy flavor is added with the addition of congas from Giovanni Hidalgo.

The rhythms on The Body Acoustic are the draw. While the record is pretty much a musical free-for-all, it is the incredible rhythms and poly-rhythms that were of most interest to me. Grooves develop and progress seemingly powered by these non-traditional beats. Chesky speaks of a group of African musicians he met in Central Park that were cool enough to teach him the ways of their tribal-sounding music. Many of these out-there beats power the tracks of The Body Acoustic.

The Body Acoustic is a CD, but you could easily mistake the album for an SACD or stereo DVD-Audio recording if you were not careful. The openness and air around the performers is spectacular. The bass and bass clarinet give good reason to test the upper regions of my new Revel Sum 30 subwoofer. Chesky’s piano tones are complex and three-dimensional. Basically, the album is ear candy.

The Body Acoustic is an out-there jazz experience that is best consumed as an entire performance. If you are looking for a John Coltrane sound-alike contest, this is not your record. I was impressed by the musical freedom expressed. These guys take off in a musical Gulfstream and figure out which airport they are going to land in by the end of the record.

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