New Jersey based multi-instrumentalist Mike Ian has created musical brilliance in his brand new release, BIG BANG VOLUME 2, and I’m telling you right now… you will be blown away by the impeccable musicianship (most of it his) and production you’ll hear on this project. Are you into Chick Corea, or Dave Weckl, or Pat Metheny? If so, then Mike Ian’s music will totally captivate you. This album is dynamic, exciting, and totally addicting. Perfectionism reigns supreme on nine originals and an incredible re-imagining of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” (You’ve got to see the video of this one!) If this world-class fusion of jazz and Brazilian rhythms doesn’t move and energize you viscerally, then something’s seriously wrong with your musical receptors. The more I listen, the more I love Mike Ian’s BIG BANG VOLUME 2. It could easily end up being my choice for best album of the year!
Big Bang, Volume 2
A very busy multi-instrumentalist, Mike Ian plays guitar, piano, keyboards, bass, drums and percussion. He recorded Big Bang, Volume 1 back in 1998 and has finally put together the second volume. Ian is heard on all of his instruments plus he occasionally adds his voice to the ensembles. In addition, he utilizes a few other musicians including pianist Jason Long on four songs and seven guests on one or two numbers apiece.
The music on Big Bang, Volume 2 is unified but diverse, ranging from fusion to introspective sections, groove music, some straight ahead jazz, Brazilian influences and even a unique version of a ragtime classic.
The opener, “In The Beginning,” starts dramatically, contrasts gentle piano with rockish guitar, and explores several moods before its conclusion. The danceable and relaxed “Ivy Rose” has fine spots for Andrew Neu on soprano and bassist Pat Parise. “Brazilian Sunset” is a little reminiscent of the Brazilian fusion of Flora Purim and Airto.
The most surprising performance is an unusual modernized version of Scott Joplin’s 1899 hit “Maple Leaf Rag.” Ian retains all of the piece’s melodies including the fourth one which is played in 5/4 time with his synthesizer often heard in the lead. “Moment’s Notice” (not the John Coltrane song) is a thoughtful and often-touching ballad while “A Fine Red” is a soulful strut with Ian’s guitar in the spotlight.
The other selections include a nice spot for Denis DiBlasio’s flute on “Big City,” the thoughtful ballad “Notes In The Sand,” the catchy and rhythmic “7 Days, 7 Nights,” and the joyous “New Brazil.” But much more than merely being “feel-good” music, Mike Ian’s originals are sophisticated, his playing is impeccable, and his music is full of subtle surprises.
Big Bang Volume 2, which crosses several musical genres, is easily recommended to fans of melodic music.
Scott Yanow, author of 10 books including The Jazz Singers, Swing and Jazz On Record 1917-76