One Track Mind: Bernie Mora and Tangent, “Dandelion” from Dandelion (2013)

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One of my favorite Rush songs is “The Trees.” I love that brief acoustic, Renaissance mannered intro with a full-bodied metal guitar suddenly bursting in with equally explosive drums and a thundering, rangy bass. Fusion guitar specialist Bernie Mora brings me back to that song with a song of his own that kicks ass for the same reason and a few additional ones.

Mora, all set to release Dandelion, an album that’s full of unexpected twists and variety, often flaunts some Santana-styled Latin flavorings, some tough funk and some hard rockin’ with this album. Made with aces from both L.A. and Mora’s native El Paso, Texas, Dandelion is one of those fun, energetic instrumental rock-jazz albums that maintains its vibe while making every song an entity onto itself. It all sounds good, but the title song was the one that really blew me away (like a dandelion, right?).

I already gave away much of the plot in explaining how a pretty intro is followed by a hard rock wallop, but that’s not the whole story about this song. When Mora turns his riff into a thematic statement, the horns — all played by Doug Webb and Lee Thornburg — add the punctuation in such a subtle way that doesn’t diminish that Rush vibe at all. Mora goes on to deliver a blistering solo and just when one would think he’s going to jam like this forever, the crunch falls away for a jazz swing led by Thornburg’s nicely chilled muted trumpet.

Rock and jazz have been mashed together at least since the Free Spirits in the mid 60s but Bernie Mora came up with a novel way of doing it when it seemed every method was already figured out. It rocks, it swings, it does a lot of cool things.

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Dandelion is slated for release June 4 by Rhombus Records.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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