2-time Grammy nominee Tim Eyermann creates a strong mood statement with Karla's Fire, blending a handful of smooth jazz gems (both originals and classic renditions) and less-commercial fusionesques that round off into what radio would call "a fine night record". Smooth sax lines blend in with clean rhythm tracks and lush keyboards, instrumental jazz in the vein of Kenny G, but perhaps a little darker and looser melodically. An arrangement of "My Funny Valentine", along with the first track on the CD, "Just A Thought"(written by keyboardist Michael Sutcher), are strong yet radio-friendly night and day cuts (respectively), and a terrific middle solo by bassist Bill Foster on " 'Valentine" is a nice touch to a smooth rendition of this classic. Track five, "Secret Love", takes a step away from the smooth side and more toward a traditional jam session, and picks up the pace from previous tracks. A fast ride cymbal lays down the base, and Eyermann switches gears into improv mode with ease, blowing atonal lines at the top of the octave scale, yet always conscious of the melodic structure behind the song.
Kenny Loggins' "Now And Then" stands out as the only vocal track on the record (featuring guest vocalist Mary Ann Redmond), and caught my attention strictly on Redmond's account. Redmond's voice carries and maintains the smooth lead lines that make the CD what it is, and unlike some 'one-off' vocal track on instrumental records, there is no disruption in style or mood.
The rhythmic monster within bears its head on "Samba De Orpheo", which features noted percussionist Gali Sanchez, and blazing solos from guest guitarist and legend Larry Coryell. This is one hot cut, featuring strong interplay between Eyermann on flute, and Coryell, each showing off some 'call and answer' action that makes improv jazz as intense as it is. Hats off to Sanchez for giving the song an additional backbone.
"Manha De Carnival", the last but definitely not the least track on the CD, is a beautiful rendition of the Louis Bonifa tune played solely by Larry Coryell and Eyermann (some know this tune by the title 'Black Orpheus'), and is so delicate that it can almost be broken by one wrong note. Coryell carries chord melody while Eyermann carefully etches out the melody on soprano sax, the end simply dissolving in the soul of the listener. A subtle rollercoaster ride between smooth jazz and modern fusion, there's no doubt that Eyermann has again left his mark on the genre and the individual listener.
Rating : ***1/2. A strong handful of tracks make this album what it is, and although there are no sour tunes on this CD, some may lean toward his less predictable tracks. Tim Eyermann again shows his diversity as a player with a fine backing cast of players and guests. Favorites : " Just A Thought", "Secret Love", "Samba De Orpheo", "Manha De Carnival".