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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Without question, one of the most anticipated solo CD releases of the year was destined to be David Crosby’s new CD “Croz,” his first solo record in two decades. Speaking as one of the first to hear it, I can tell you that it truly is a masterpiece. To those who have been die-hard Crosby, Stills and Nash fans for decades, the music itself won’t really sound familiar, and to some extent, that’s the brilliance of it…much as was the case with the recent Stephen Stills disc “The Rides.” No, this CD was devoid of anything that would be reminiscent of such classic Crosby tunes such as Long Time Gone, Deja Vu, and Almost Cut My Hair. On the other hand, if you are a true Crosby aficionado, and treasured the years when his breakout band CPR, with (James Raymond and Jeff Pevar) was touring the nation, this CD will sound much like a luxurious sequel to their self-entitled 1998 “CPR” disc, with it’s Blues and Jazz groove that no doubt owes much to the very talented James Raymond, who has a style all his own that is just so smooth and sweet that it seems to flow like honey.
The brilliance of the compositions are apparent right from the beginning notes of the disc, kicking off with the tune “What’s Broken,” featuring Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler. I had read a previous review that I think really summed it up so well, describing the album not as a collection of distinct songs, but rather as a modern jazz work that was essentially a “theme album” with the theme being the mood itself. Check out the video below, and you’ll see a bit about what I mean.
The beauty of the disc by no means ends with that fantastic lead-in tune, but rather gets stronger and more intricate the deeper in you get, complete with the lush vibe of “Holding on to Nothing,” with the brilliant Wynton Marsalis on trumpet. As some will note, Crosby and Marsalis played together last fall in a mesmerizing show at Lincoln Center, and clearly hit it off. One of my personal favorites is Slice of Time, a song that fans will note has been played over the last couple of years at several Crosby Nash shows on their recent tours.
I had the chance to catch up with David in New York City, as his solo tour sold out several nights in a row at an awesome club in Greenwich Village called “The Winery.” As he always is, David was a consummate host, and is always one of the coolest people I get to chat with over the years. He truly is the epitome of a “cool cat,” and spoke freely about just how excited and proud he was about the release, and what a true joy it was to have such a brilliant team of musicians and producers to work with, not the least of which was his son James Raymond. As fantastic as the selections on the CD turned out to be, David indicated that the hardest thing is that he actually had many, many more songs that didn’t make the final cut, such as “Camera,” which was inspired by both his own father “Floyd Crosby,” an Oscar winning cinematographer, and of course his partner in crime, Graham Nash himself one of the worlds truly gifted photographers. I suspect we will see much more of David’s tunes this summer, as CSN tours the country and explores some of the deep cuts that bring the crowds to their feet.
Interestingly, I set out today to review the concert itself, rather than just the CD, so I best get on with it. The venue itself, fror those who’ve never been there, is one of my personal favorites. The staff i just fantastic, as is the food, and the ambiance is just so warm and lovely. Oddly enough, in a club such as this, the acoustics are actually really awesome, and it’s just so much more intimate than seeing CSN or CSNY in a large arena. I arrived early in the day, having taking the morning bus down from Boston, and after David was kind enough to field a few interview questions I was able to sit through sound-check before taking in the city sights. Having seen nearly a hundred CSNY permutations, it was evident to me within a few minutes of sound-check that David was absolutely at his best! He looked great, and sounded even better. Always in flawless pitch, and with a voice that is stronger now than when I saw him for the first time in the 70’s. The band for the show included some of my favorite artists… James Raymond on keys, Shayne Fontaine and Marcus Eaton on Guitar, Kevin McCormick on bass, and the brilliant Steve Distanislao on Drums.
The show was split into two sets, with the first being the new CD played in its entirety…and brilliantly. Bringing a crowd to their feet, who have never heard even one of the songs before, is not an easy task for any artist…but David pulled it off in spades. After a short break, the band returned and kicked off a set filled with some deep, deep tracks from his vast catalog of solo, CSN, CN, COR and even the Byrds classic “8 Miles High,” decimated to Pete Seger, who had passed away the night before. For an encore, he dished out a version of Deja Vu that was nothing short of luscious, from the brilliant acoustic and electric guitar licks, to the dissonant blues riffs that only James Raymond can deliver. With that, the night was over….and yet so many were left wanting even more. The tour continues with additional dates on the east coast, before heading west to California. If you haven’t already bought your ticket, you may very well be too late, as most of the gigs are sold out…but if there is any way to beg, borrow or steal your way to a ticket, it’s an absolute must see event.
Either way, you most definitely want to stop by davidcrosby.com and order a copy of Croz before they sell out…and stay tuned for news about an upcoming CSN tour in 2014.
Set 1: – Croz in entirety:
Time I Have
Holding on to Nothing
Slice of Time
Set That Baggage Down
If She Called
Find a Heart
Eight Miles High
Turn! Turn! Turn!
Tracks in the Dust
Homeward Through the Haze
Long Time Gone
How Do They Know?
Naked in the Rain