This album may be a little different, but the fun of jazz is giving an ear to something that's not on the usual path. With tunes focused on the intense electric guitar and two keyboards, as well as the bass, drums and percussion, guitarist Corey Christiansen's Lone Prairie
is indeed a bit off the path, yet still on the prairie.
A tribute to the American West, it contains 10 numbers, including traditionals and three originals by Christiansen. Many of the tunes remind me of a favorite number of mine by Sonny Rollins: "I'm an Old Cowhand." But this is not straight-ahead; this modern jazz offers deep reverberation and an often propelling tone. Nevertheless, it moves.
The traditional tune, "Bury Me Not," opens with bassist Jeremy Allen then slowly builds and ebbs with emotion. That's one of Christensen's distinctive arranging techniques: pacing control. And he sets the mood with a strong guitar. There's no doubt "Bury Me Not" reflects that jazzy strategy.
"El Paso" and "Streets of Laredo," familiar country pop tunes from the 1950s, are fearlessly reshaped. "Sitting on Top of the World" truly makes you feel that you are, indeed; it moves, animated by Christensen's rhythmic dance on guitar.
The only tune that didn't move me was "In the Pines." The passionate energy was evident, but though I like a biting guitar at times, it was not so appropriate for this traditional music.
The multi-generational band, playing with tight interaction, do their parts to make Lone Prairie
into a collection of stories about the early American West. Rich with the past and delivered with today?s interpretation, the album is jazz without borders.