Label: Val Gardena Music
Contemporary instrumental and jazz make for a great partnership on the first solo album for Christopher James.
The Christopher James Project is titled for a good reason. Project-based recording usually entails many different artists, and Better Days is precisely that.
It makes for an excellent listen, featuring an All-Star lineup comprised of Ben Butler, Taylor Eigsti, John Patitucci, Nate Smith, David Torn, and Doug Yowell. Those listeners who enjoy instrumental works with a piano leading the way with plenty of rhythm and jazz flavors will find great joy in each track.
Some good examples of all the colors, textures, and melding of sounds are "Pear Blossom' and "Anna," which were consecutive tracks of absolute pleasure. The album's flow is perfect as one track introduces the next. The musicianship is exemplary, as one would expect with this lineup. I always notice an intrinsic rhythm in this type of music, and it is the core that everything else is built upon. This is from my listening perspective, and others will likely hear it differently.
That is the freedom and beauty of a great musical recording, and it allows your mind and spirit to take flight. In that context, "Bated Breath" is very progressive and goes through several changes over 4:03 minutes. I found it breathtaking and could feel the immense energy that went into that track. It provides the excitement and wonder of a great jazz improvisational number.
Christopher James is an accomplished classical pianist taking his skills to different and new heights with help from his friends. I have been listening to some tremendous smooth jazz lately from a station out of Istanbul, Turkey. That has engaged me and put me in the right mood and frame of mind for music like this.
Yes, indeed, let's all hang on to that though now, Better Days are ahead, and performing artists such as Christopher James are leading the way.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
September 23, 2021
01. Beyond the Sunrise
02. The Dunes
03. Better Days
04. Blue Mountains
05. Pear Blossom
07. Don't Let It Slip Away
08. Bated Breath
09. A Previous Thought
10. Beyond the Sunrise (alternate)