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RocketNumberNine lives up to its promise

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Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 7:42 p.m.
 

‘MeYouWeYou'

RocketNumberNine

Smalltown Supersound

★★★

When your band has a name like RocketNumberNine you better be ready to do one of two things: (a) deliver on some serious space jams or (b) rock it like a serious son-of-a-gun.

I'm happy to report this duo does both, though more of the former than the latter.

The group is London-based brothers Tom Page on drums and Ben Page on synthesizer. Their sound is a bit sparse in that it sounds like two guys playing music together and not a study in overdubbing and studio layering. What you hear are some rather interesting drum rhythms bonded firmly with spacey and shimmering synthesizer craftsmanship.

At times these instrumentals feel a little lonely, but the album has a strong groove that doesn't sound like it was dumped out of a can.

Eric Slagle is a writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

‘Hacienda'

Jeff Lorber Fusion

Heads Up International

★★½

I'm always interested in artists willing to tackle the music of the late, great Frank Zappa, so I was particularly interested when I saw Jeff Lorber was doing “King Kong” on his newest album, “Hacienda.”

Lorber's last couple of albums have produced reliably fusion-oriented jazz and this one is no exception. His take on “King Kong” is faithful to versions I've heard by Frank — it still swings albeit maybe a little more laid back a fashion — while managing to bring some new ideas to the delightful composition.

He gets help on the track from long ago Zappa band mates Ed Mann on marimba and Jean-Luc Ponty on violin. One-time Mothers drummer Vinnie Colaiuta also plays on the album.

Those personalities are all reason enough for me to be interested. However, I found the balance of the record to be a bit on the smooth side and less than inspiring. There were good musical moments but a lot of the time it failed to command my attention.

Eric Slagle is a writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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