Michael Lampert’s case for the electric mandolin taking a prominent place in progressive jazz music is solid. The sound of his instrument can be compared to a high-pitched electric guitar, but it doesn’t steal the spotlight by screeching or screaming. It is pleasantly subtle, yet effective and direct. The sound has an inimitable flair.
Lampert’s style, though tight and sometimes cool, is full of vigor. He casually saunters and merrily meanders rather than slamming in, and gives the music just enough of a push to allow it to seep in to the deepest levels. The quartet is seamless together and although this might seem a bit smooth for some, each solo comes on as spontaneously as an evening breeze.
I’m Walkin’ romps and stomps with infectious, bursting energy. Timothy Emmons throws in a bubbly bass that carries the bounce level to the top.
The two original compositions by Lampert are delightful as well. "La-Dee-Da" is sultry and infused with Jeff Fish’s sizzling percussion and "Animation" is airy and bright with a swinging piano solo by Vern Waldron.
The nylon string guitar in "Summer Samba" and "East of the Sun" is understated, but clearly defines and accents the unique voice of Lampert’s mandolin. Tom Bethke’s distinctive style, happily, doesn’t become lost or crowded out.The fluidity and movement of this music allows room for all in the mix. Straight forward, yet carefree, this disc has endless summer appeal as well as some outstanding arrangements and progressive edge.