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  • Jonathan Widran

CHAD EDWARDS, Wyoming Roads

If anyone enjoying pianist/composer Chad Edwards’ magnificently eclectic, infectiously engaging new album Wyoming Roads wonders why he’s been MIA on the recording front since his acclaimed 2000 debut Resolution, communicating with spacecraft across the solar system and designing future missions to Mars may have something to do with it.

Perhaps best known in SoCal music circles as part of popular ensemble The San Gabriel 7, Edwards has always found time to make music despite his many years as an engineer at JPL, where SG7 founder Jim Lewis was a colleague. Now that he’s recently retired, the pianist is full speed ahead on resurrecting recording career, starting with this new quartet album featuring five vital, zestful originals and fresh, outside the box arrangements of four familiar standards with a quartet featuring L.A. stalwarts Rob Kyle (sax and flute), Hussain Jiffry (bass) and Kevin Winard (drums and percussion). Compositionally, Edwards draws from unique areas of his life for inspiration.

These include a challenging yet ultimately fulfilling trip through the beautiful landscape of “Wyoming Roads,” featuring a gorgeous piano melody, spry improvisation and a richly soulful Kyle sax solo; his wife’s obsession with llamas, which sparked the strutting bluesy-funk jam “Momma Wanna Llama”; his son Drew, who inspired the dreamy, graceful waltz “Trey”; and his daughter Kyle Tierney, who he pays homage to with the gently swinging “Tierney” that features Kyle’s gorgeous and adventurous flute solo.

As for the standards, Edwards and company have a blast re-imagining Wayne Shorter’s indelible “Footprints,” reharmonized and in a faster 4/4 tempo; a dazzling, Latinized “Alone Together”; a Latin meets swing fusion romp through the bright fall colors of “Autumn Leaves”; and a playful stomp groove driven breeze through Jobim’s “Wave” imbued with Kyle’s slinky sax and Jiffry’s plucky bass solo.


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