The cover for Ralph Bowen’s newest release Total Eclipse is a picture of a “ring of fire” solar exclipse, much like the one that provided a spectacular show for residents of the U.S. Southwest on Monday. Putting on a saxophone show is what Ralph is about, though, and for the forth time in three years, he’s putting for a new album deploying a different type of ensemble. This time, Bowen is leading a organ/guitar quartet making good use of the services of B-3 boss Jared Gold and guitarist Mike Moreno; Rudy Royston mans the drums. Bowen was a key player on Gold’s breakthrough All Wrapped Up from last year and while Total Eclipse isn’t the angular, studious affair of that record, he’s not channeling Stanley Turrentine, either. Eclipse splits the difference, an album full of soul but not predictable soul riffs and licks (“On Green,” heard on the YouTube below, is a highlight). Occasionally, there’s a surprise or two to prevent any monotony from settling in, like the rock-out combustible jam “Hip Check,” and the soprano sax delight “The Dowsing Rod.”
Ralph Bowen might change up the personnel and the configuration from album to album, but the results remain solid. Total Eclipse continues his winning streak.
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‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.