The future of contemporary instrumental music is now with Utopian Dreams!
In doing my due diligence on this EP I found about seven different tags used in an attempt to try and describe the music of Utopian Dreams. Labels are for cans of soup while arbitrary tags on music of any genre are self serving at best and usually not in an artists best interest.
In perusing the various publications that plague the instrumental music that most of us refer to as jazz, the most common listener complaint concerning artists walking the smoother side of the contemporary street would be lame vocals and predictability that embraces a never ending level of mediocrity that leads to a shelf life somewhat shorter than the average loaf of bread. From Dreams To You works incredibly well thanks to the attention to detail in an evocative group dynamic that moves effortlessly in and around various sub genres including Nu-jazz, contemporary jazz, funk and the radio format more commonly referred to as smooth jazz. What we have with From Dreams To You is a riff on modern music put forth with sophisticated jazz harmonies and an ambient flavor lacking in most contemporary styles today. In short, this is fresh vibrant music for an upscale crowd with Renaissance tastes. In speaking with keyboard synthesizer player Patricia Britton she described the collectives niche as follows,
"While keeping a foot in 'old school'...we are trying to stretch out of the tight bind that much of contemporary jazz is locked into...reaching for a new sound....something of our own...the freedom of being independent...with music that grooves with the embellishment of improvisation"...
The San Francisco area continues to be a vibrant talent laden pool of musicians covering most any genre you can imagine but the Bay Area is fast becoming a major player in modern jazz and with ensembles like Utopian Dreams it is of little wonder. Doing a break down on a four track EP is an exercise in futility as the myriad of styles previously mentioned seems to appear in each tune and with amazing diversity. The band continues to refine their craft in the studio with this EP has a preview of things to come. I would be remiss if I over looked both the arrangements and recording quality which are mirror images. Dynamic arrangements couples with a warm open ended sound that unlike similar acts, does not sound as though it has been sanitized for your protection.
A perfect release? Taste is subjective but you would be hard pressed to find anything to grind on about here. The musical stock of Utopian Dreams seems to be an arrow pointing straight up and From Dreams To You is a perfect example of the creativity yet to be tapped in the smooth jazz market.
Tracks: Celsius Rising; From Dreams To You; On The Edge Of Things; Star Gazing.
Personnel: G Michael Merrifeld: bass; Patricia Britton: keyboard synthesizer; Eddie Baccus Jr.: alto, tenor, baritone and EWI saxes; Tony Darren (courtesy of Concord): guitar; Maurice Chevalier: piano, keyboards and arrangements; Michael Corbett: drums.