The Muse Awakens
01. Contemporary Insanity (3:24)
02. The Muse Awakes (5:36)
03. Stepping Through Time (6:31)
04. Maui Sunset (5:10)
05. Lunch At The Psychedelicatessen (4:59)
06. Slipstream (4:43)
07. Barking Spiders (4:11)
08. Adrift (4:04)
09. Shadowlites (3:52)
10. Kindred Spirits (5:26)
11. Il Quinto Mare (7:22)
- Frank Wyatt / saxes, keyboards, woodwinds
- Stanley Whitaker / guitars, vocal
- David Rosenthal / keyboards
- Joe Bergamini / drums, percussion
- Rick Kennell / bass
Hapy the Man returns with a beautifully created product. The band put "Happy" to the forefront of the theme, just like their name, mostly up-tempo instrumental jazz-prog with one brilliant vocal track. The production is very crystaline, smooth and breathy. The overall proformance is very tight with a jazzers swing.
Keyboardist David Rosenthal fills in admirably for Kit Watkins, who no longer wants to tour. The keyboard instruments are at the core of Happy the Man, Rosenthal is up to the task, his presence strong on each track. Drummer Joe Bergamini (4Front) plays with restraint in this setting. His playing swells below the current, almost waiting to explode. His fusion chops are kept in control.
The standout tracks are Il Quinto Mare, Shadowlites, Barking Spiders (oops, excuse me!) and Lunch at the Psychedelicatessen. Il Quinto Mare is very cinematic in it's approach, multi-segmented melodic prog with wonderful interaction between the soloists. Whitaker's vocal on Shadowlites is lovely. It makes you long for more. His voice is soothing and captures your attention. Barking Spiders starts off with a quirky guitar riff, a honking sax and bizarro synth fills. Totally fun and complex. This would be a live standout in my imagination. Lunch's keyboard ditty will stick in your head all day. Kind of a skippin' down the sidewalk feel.
The reason I'm giving this three stars instead of four is because fans of harder edged prog will find the softer, jazzier parts boring and uninteresting. It's not for everyone. Tunes like Adrift and Maui Sunset are great end of the day, reflective tunes. They unwind you. Some people just can't find that space, so this music would not hit home. If you like melodic understated music, this is a gem.
Let's hope we we don't have to wait another twenty years for the next one.