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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Opus Jazz Band

Timeless!

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Milwaukee’s Opus Jazz Band blessedly belies the notion that “fusion” need be a synonym for “smooth.” The half-dozen tracks on Timeless! may hit the ear in an easy manner, but they’re not to be confused with the aural wallpaper of smooth jazz. Their intermittent funkiness is a touch too keen, the rhythmic and melodic interplay between guitar, sax, piano, bass and drum a bit too conversationally intelligent to likely arouse much attention from listeners wanting jazz to sound like Muzak. Recording thoughtful interpretations of pieces by contemporary saxophonist Eric Alexander and piano giant McCoy Tyner puts Opus in a rarefied place for what’s considered fusion nowadays. If not for the album’s especially mellow final track, one might be forgiven for thinking the gentlemen of Opus were traditional post-bop players trying their hand at a less arcane form of their art.