Today's instrumental music is often abstract (or, regrettably, obtuse), impressionistic (or stark), sometimes grand (even pompous). "Saturday's Rhapsody," however, is none of these. Pianist Jim Chappell's bright new melodies seem closer to light program music: jaunty, sweetly cinematic and all broadly encompassed by the album's title.
Chappell's sparkling piano is on center stage, but each of the arrangements spotlights one or more of the other players in his excellent ensemble, complementing the ivories with flutes, strings (solo and in sections), guitars, woodwinds and saxophones.
If you had a free Saturday with nothing particular to do and felt like wandering here, there and everywhere, soaking in the scenes and watching people, this would be an fine collection to take along. The song "Saturday's Rhapsody" has the opening-credits feel of a movie theme, while numbers like the wide-eyed "Field Day," the skipping "Sidewalk Characters," the perfectly titled "Fancy Pants" (picture a swell parading down Mail Street) and the politely affectionate, even Victorian "Woman in the Mirror" describe incidents, memories and emotions we've all witnessed or felt. Often on a Saturday.CHI; "Jet Stream" (Sonic Atmospheres); produced by Thomas Chase, Steve Rucker and Sheridan Wolf Eldridge. * * 1/2
"Jet Stream" isn't laid-back new age/progressive instrumental fare. Even comparatively tranquil tracks like "North Country Girl" and "Sail the Distant Sea" barely restrain the lively zip Chi's Steve Rucker (keyboards) and Thomas Chase (guitars) put in their melodies.
Bracketed by the moderate exotica of "Carnaval" and "Children's Song" (which incorporates a West African chant), "Jet Stream" glides around the world lightly sampling this musical tradition and that in a contemporary style that's on the pop/new age side of jazz/fusion. Still, while the songs percolate, they don't really take us anywhere we haven't been before. Nevertheless, the only truly ill-advised cut is "She Drives Me Madagascar," an uninspired vocal that serves no purpose in the album's overall instrumental texture - except to maybe touch one more musical base.