Review by Brad Walseth
Pete Carney and his cohorts in Orange Alert are out to win the hearts and minds of the youth of today, by presenting jazz music that utilizes elements of hip-hop, bass and drum dance music, and modern pop. Not the only jazz artists to recognize the need for jazz to move with the times - artists from Miles Davis to Maurice Brown have explored this fusion to some extent - but Carney and crew are one of the most successful at taking jazz onto the dance floor in a manner that should appeal to today's young ravers.
"Redline Groves" is the new release from Carney and Orange Alert - and it takes it's title from the Red Line train that runs across the urban landscape of Chicago. The shimmering cover artwork of James Kelewae suggests endless freeways and factories belching smoke as distorted through a glass window in motion, and it's an apt metaphor for the music contained within. The title track starts things off with scratching turntables, some bold horns, and Gary Tu's intricate guitar riffs over an addictively funky groove supplied by Brian Felix on Rhodes, Joewan Scott on bass and James Knowles on drums. For those fearing the worst, rest assured - as here as throughout, Carney on saxophone and trumpeter James Donovan bring their heavy duty jazz chops into play.
The songs on the album are compelling and the musicianship at a high level. Several songs like "Orange #29," "Are We on the Air" and "Turkey Leg" are up-tempo and horn-driven, while drummer Sean Jelinek's "Steppin on the Fast Track combines reggae with drum & bass style rhythm over which Marcin Fahmy's keyboards swirl and Donovan, Tu and Carney add some powerful flourishes. "Something's Gotta Give" and The Weight of Our Thoughts" bring on some chewy funk, while "The Inconvenience of Tomorrow" and "Us" slows it down to a dark moody tempo. The catchy "Snowtrane" takes the techno feel of bass and drums and adds a nice jazzy overlay.
Additionally, Carney and his bandmates cover two of the popular songs of today: Coldplay's hit "Clocks" is given a nice jazzy treatment - complete with saxophone, acoustic bass by Kurt Schweitz and lovely vocals by Josephine Lee. Meanwhile, the Oasis song - "Wonderwall" is presented in an instrumental fashion with Carney taking the melodic lead on sax. Finally, album-closer "Avec Toi" is a nice romantic cool-down and just the ticket for riding home on the Red Line.