James Rosocha – Avalon | Album Review

James Rosocha – Avalon



CD: 9 Songs, 47:17 Minutes

Styles: Mellow Instrumental Jazz, Bass-Based Jazz

When a bassist takes center stage on an album, it’s like watching a delicate balancing act at the circus. How can such an artist make sure s/he’s the main event, and plays the main instrument, without seeming over-the-top? Bass guitars don’t have the range of lead guitars, or (in most cases) the sexiness, the va-va-voom of lead guitars. James Rosocha, veteran of the jazz genre, aims to fix that. Yours truly knows that the title of the publication you’re currently reading is BluesBlast Magazine. She also knows that sometimes, it’s almost impossible to demarcate the line between blues and other genres – in this case, jazz. However, Rosocha’s newest release, Avalon, is most clearly jazz, with barely a blue note to be found on its nine tracks (one cover, eight listed originals, and one ghost track). Even though Rosocha’s mellow and atmospheric instrumentals have been featured on TV channels galore, Ms. Wetnight believes it would be perfectly suited for one particular station broadcasting 24-hour forecasts and natural-disaster documentaries. Don’t get me wrong: This is anything but Muzak. It’s just not down-home blues.

This bassist has garnered tons of accolades over the years, as detailed on his webpage. “Bassist James Rosocha holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He’s toured the United States and Europe as a long-time member of the BD Lenz group. Together they’ve released nine albums under the New York jazz label Apria Records and can be heard on a number of television shows such as MTV, VH1, USA, A&E, Nickelodeon, Travel Network, Food Network, Spike TV, Comedy Central and a long host of others.

“A student of New Jersey’s late jazz legend/guitarist Harry Leahey and Steve Morse Band/Dixie Dregs bassist Dave LaRue, James has been fortunate to share the stage with trumpet legend Randy Brecker, guitarist Hiram Bullock, drummer Joel Rosenblatt, saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, pianist Jeremy Wall of Spyro Gyro and Phish leader Trey Anastasio. He appears alongside Trey in the new Phish Companion book, which documents the band’s history and music.”

Playing in Rosocha’s ensemble are the man himself on bass, keyboards, and (relatively rare) vocals; Steve Kramer on piano; Audric Jankauskas on guitar and synth solo; Josh Orlando, Kevin Soffera and Scott Jordan on drums; John Christie on percussion; Dave Haywood on guitar and vocals; BD Lenz on guest guitar; Kendall Scott on vibes and second keyboard; Nick Rolfe and Thomas Alexander on guest keyboards; and Geoff Mattoon on tenor and soprano saxes.

The song below is the edgiest on the CD, perfect background music for reading gothic horror.

Track 07: “Reverie” – At times, our memories aren’t exactly fond. Neither are they beautiful, because sometimes the truth is ugly. “Reverie” brings this to mind, along with loss, heartbreak, and pent-up resentments that simmer within a relationship until they happen to boil over. “Reverie” calls up the image of a driver on a lonely highway in the dead of night, yearning to escape the ghosts that haunt him, but unable to manage this feat. The shadows keep closing in. This instrumental plunges listeners into the darker depths of the psyche, where fear holds sway.

In the mood for mellow instrumental jazz? Take a trip to Avalon with James Rosocha!

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