Never judge a book (or an album) by its cover. That is the lesson to be learned from Let There Be Light, the latest album from jazz artist Dr. Mike Bogle. Released July 1 through MBP/Groove!, the six song record is in direct contrast to the picture of Bogle on the record’s cover. His long, blonde locks and menacing look makes him look more like a mad metal scientist than jazz artist, but the content featured in this 45-minute record proves otherwise. That content is at the heart of the album’s success and will be discussed shortly. While the content does much to make this record worth hearing, the album (his seventh overall) is not perfect. It lacks any liner notes to help explain the songs’ inspiration and creation. As active as the songs are, it certainly would have been nice to know what was Bogle’s mindset as he created each song. Instead, this aspect detracts from the record’s presentation. It is not enough to make the album a failure, but certainly would have gone a long way toward making the album more engaging and entertaining. The album’s production works with the arrangements themselves to make this album an interesting presentation that is worth hearing occasionally.
Dr. Mike Bogle’s recently released album, Let There Be Light is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums. Its interest is centered mainly on its featured arrangements. The arrangements present a wide array of sounds and stylistic approaches from one to the next. ‘Positano’ for instance, is a light, lounge-type composition. Its mix of keyboards, guitar, steel drums, and bass however, gives that familiar stylistic approach and sound such a unique identity that replaces the typically cheesy sound of such arrangements and makes it far more appealing. By comparison, the album’s title track, which clocks in at more than six-and-a-half minutes, is more of a fusion type work. That is evidenced through the combination of Bogle’s stylized vocals (which sound kind of like scatting), and keyboards against the subtle work of drummer Harrell Bosarge and bassist Buddy Mohmed. The production here deserves the credit what with the way that it modulated the vocals and accented the instrumentation. On yet another note, Bogle and company’s take on Pee Wee Ellis’ ‘The Chicken’ (the album’s only cover tune) does stay true to its source material, but at the same time, gives it a new identity here. Instead of just copying and pasting, the group opens the song with a bit of a gospel influence what with the use of the organ, bass, and drums. One can almost see the choir standing there singing (even though this is fully instrumental) before the group changes things again and moves in a more funky tropical vibe. Not only is this a stark change in stylistic approach from the original song, but it is just as much a departure from the other songs featured in the album. It shows once more, the diversity in the arrangements. Between the songs examined here and the album’s three remaining songs, the whole of the record’s musical content shows that it has much to offer audiences.
While the diverse musical arrangements featured in Let There Be Light form a strong foundation for the album, the record is not perfect. Its one shortcoming comes as it lacks any liner notes. This means that there is no background on any of the songs. Considering that all six songs featured in this album are instrumental, relying solely on song titles is not enough to be able to grasp the stories behind the songs. That might seem a minor thing, but as noted by this critic so many times, when it comes to instrumental music, such background is needed so as to fully appreciate the songs. That is because it is possible certain songs might have some special message and/or influence at their center. To that end, not having any background information does detract from the overall listening experience. While it does detract from that experience, it is not enough to doom the album, but certainly would have helped that aspect.
Considering that the impact of the lack of liner notes, there is still one more item to examine here. That item is the album’s production. The album’s production is important to address because of the variety in the arrangements. Most of the arrangements are, again, relatively mid-tempo works. Their energies and styles are so different, though. That means that a lot of attention had to be paid to each work in order to make sure no one line stepped on the others at any point. Those painstaking efforts paid off, too. Each arrangement allows each musician to shine on his respective part. The result is that from one song to the next, audiences get the full effect. That in itself will lead to plenty of engagement and entertainment. It is a tribute to the work put in by those behind the boards. Keeping that in mind along with the impact of the songs’ diversity, that whole is enough to make this album worth hearing occasionally.
Dr. Mike Bogle’s recently released album, Let There Be Light is a presentation that many jazz audiences will find mostly appealing. That is due in large part to its musical arrangements. The arrangements are mostly modern style compositions, and are diverse. There is some fusion influence, some subtle big band influence, some tropical influence and more throughout the album’s 45-minute run time. While the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements does much to appeal to audiences, the lack of background on the songs detracts from the listening experience to a point. The negative of that shortcoming is not enough to doom the album, but it still would have been nice to have had that information to enhance the listening experience. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements. It brings out the best of each recording session, making sure each musician’s part is balanced in every work. It completes the record’s presentation and shows once more why it deserves at least one chance. All things considered, these elements make Let There Be Light worth hearing occasionally. The album is available now through MBP/Groove! More information on the album is available along with all of Dr. Mike Bogle’s latest news at https://www.mikebogle.com.
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