Sausalito Summer. Great name for an album and as good a two word summary of what you'll hear as you're likely to get. Balmy breezes, surfers on breaking waves, sea gulls floating and calling overhead, umbrella drink in hand. Relax. On a tall stool at the counter of a grass shack surrounded by bronzed hedonists, you're on vacation, dude!
"Gold Coast" introduces the mood and is the best of the lot. A trio of strings and an electronic keyboard make a fair imitation of lush. After some of Tim Wallace's feathery tropical flute, Mast lazes sensually on trumpet and cornet.
I'll give him that one, but tolerance doesn't extend to the title tune itself. A soupy electronic keyboard and clunky rhythms fit the mood a little too well, reminding me of lounge bands not too far from closing time.
"Marling Song," again featuring Wallace's delicate flute, recovers the original state-of-mind. That flute then turns funky, ala Herbie Mann, on "Tam Junction." Sam Grobe-Heintz chimes in on piano, keeping it bluesy until Scott Peterson on tenor adds a harder edge. Piano and tenor are back for "Bridgeway," a tune closer to mainstream jazz than most of the others.
Court Mast stands on jazz's happier shores. The most obvious influences are Chuck Mangione, Herb Alpert and, on this album anyway, Jimmy Buffett. The strongest tracks are those which take the summer theme to heart. The string trio which appears on four cuts is especially effective at producing that romantic-vacation vibe. Close your eyes and you're in Sausalito, or maybe the Caribbean, and saving a lot of money in hard times.
Buyers note: There are a generous 12 tunes on the album (all Mast originals), but total timing is a less than generous 41 minutes.