David Bloom is a composer with a painter’s eye and Bill Colnot an arranger steeped in classical harmonies but with an international outlook. As Bloom explains,
over the last fifty years, I have met a few people who had an unusual level of spirituality, imagination, hipness, heart and individuality. Each one radiated an aura that was impossible to ignore. These people had what I have always called a Shadow of a Soul.
The album opens with ‘Mischievous Mark Colby’, written for a student of Blooms who had died the previous year. There is a melancholia about this tune, perhaps unsurprisingly, and a well-tempered sax solo from Dave Liebman. The number ends with a long fade and, for me, a touch prematurely: I should have liked to have heard a more expansive tune, something more emotive. ‘The Way I See It’ continues in a similar vein as the opening number with some nice trumpet work (player unidentified) and a good gentle rhythm from the percussionist. There is also a pleasant piano section, but I am aware that the word ‘nice’ (or any of its synonyms) is starting to become a repeated word.
‘Samba’ did at least lift the energy levels but coming in at a little over one minute this would not be for long and the added strings moderated any sense of vibrancy. ‘From Eddie P’ is a tribute to salsa great Eddie Palmieri featuring a 24-piece arrangement, and comes across well enough but lacks a certain level of authenticity until Victor Garcia adds his trumpet to the mix – and, thankfully it features quite heavily. Unfortunately, ‘Reconsider’ brings the listener back down from the Latin inspired high but only for a minute until ‘No Reruns’ takes over with the agreeable flugelhorn playing of Ron Parton. The piano section is also easy on the ear but it all sounds a little too pedestrian for my liking.
So, what of the album’s title track? ‘Shadow of a Soul’ is described as being “both lyrical and innovative. [Which is] what you would expect from a composer with a painter’s eye and an arranger steeped in classical harmonies.” I am sorry to say that I am unable to agree with that description and I think this piece highlights, for me, why I am unable to connect with this album: it is over arranged, there is no emotional correspondence for this listener to engage with and I was left unaffected by it. It is nicely written, nicely played but it lacks passion. However, there are another seven tracks to explore on Shadow of a Soul and you might find something there that will prove my thoughts to be a little harsh but, of course, they are only my opinion: subjective, not objective.
Musicians: Dave Liebman – soprano sax (track 1 & 8); Steve Duncan – trombone (track 4); David Bugher – vibes (track 4); Ron Parton – flugelhorn (track 7); Victor Garcia – trumpet (track 5); Ryan Cohan – piano (track 5).
Tracklist: 1. Mischievous Mark Colby. 2. The Way I See it. 3. Samba. 4. True Bloo. 5. For Eddie P. 6. Reconsider. 7. No Reruns. 8. Shadow Of A Soul. 9. Mu Hahn. 10. Fatal Honey. 11. Beeb’s Blues. 12. Only We. 13. Ambivalent. 14. Lushness For Life. 15. Yin and Yang.