|Chris Tarry is an electric bassist, a composer, an arranger, and he is the producer and leader on this first-rate album, Sorry to be Strange. Chris Tarry need not be sorry for producing a CD that flows from beginning to ending with audio intrigue, a hard bop base and contemporary rhythms that pull you into the groove. Mr. Tarry and his associates have produced an excellent record of original music, twelve tunes that are a mix of many influences, built on a solid foundation of jazz.
Chris Tarry is joined on this project by some highly skilled musicians. The saxophone playing of Kelly Jefferson is a highlight. The opening track Then There Was One features Jefferson on saxophone with a full warm tone and wonderful lyrical lines; he carries the melody and paints a beautiful portrait with his palette of sounds. The supporting accompanists, Jon Cowherd on piano, Pete McCann playing guitar and Don Weiss on drums, along with Tarrys driving, melodious bass lines, build the song to a fiery intensity, peaking with a keyboard break by Cowherd thats very exciting. The songs intensity is reeled back in with Jefferson joining the group and repeating the opening melody, the group comes back to earth and fades, a satisfying and delightful audio experience.
The song Vienna in the Spring is the only song that Chris Tarry has ever put lyrics to, or so he writes in the liner notes. Guest vocalist Leah Siegel joins the band and does justice to Tarrys lyrics with a strong vocal performance. A marching rhythmic ballad, with Cowherd pounding out chords on piano and McCann strumming guitar between the pulsating melody, Leah Siegel glides in with a sustained, There is a place / where the gentle heart lies, high in the tower / named for you. When dawns thousand loves began and St. Stephens calling, Ill be waiting there for you. Its quite lovely / Vienna in the spring. Ms. Siegel has a vocal quality similar to Björk (Icelandic singer/songwriter) in accent and phrasing. The band is fully committed to the song and the singer, branching out with inspired playing and creating a full orchestral tone in accompaniment during the verses, or laying back and sympathizing on the beauty of Vienna in the Spring and the enchanting, melancholy vocalizing of Leah Siegel.
The closing track, Here We Go Again, is an upbeat number that has a catchy melody, a great bridge with driving, fluid bass lines, many hooks that are scattered throughout the song and stand out playing by all members of the band that make this a song to remember. Guitarist Pete McCann is free, free at last, to break out of the mould, he wails, he matches Kelly Jefferson note for note, he produces sustained fills, verging on feedback the band backs off and guitar fills the ambiance for the grand finale. A nice album from The Chris Tarry Group, Sorry to be Strange is well worth a listen for the fine musicianship (dare I say virtuosity), great songs and overall quality of the recording.
report by Paul J. Youngman KJA Jazz Advocate January 2007