More than a smooth jazz artist, Dan Siegel’s new album Indigo plays out as the sum of a TV/film composer’s many illustrious parts. Overflowing with equal parts innuendo and magnitude, the Eugene, OR-raised/California-based keyboardist wrote 10 love songs as if writing the movie of his life in sweeping, cascading arcs.
Prolific but careful, the 35-year veteran broke his silence after five years with his most recent, October 14, 2014 release with Grammy-nominated bassist Brian Bromberg. Known for recording exquisitely original music ready-made for a soundtrack, most of Siegel’s past albums have hit the top of the charts and made lasting memories in the minds and hearts of both critics and the general public.
It’s his universal touch in touching self-contained musical stories that led him to accomplished scores for TV and film, including Hard Copy, Reform School Girls, Overtime with Pat O’Brien, and The Usual Suspects. He’s also backed a variety show of artists, from Chaka Khan and Berlin, to Glenn Frey, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Sample.
Originally a rocker of sorts, Siegel went down the jazz routes by way of jazz studies and his first recording deal with New York’s Inner City Records in 1979. He quickly discovered an affinity for jazz fusion which incorporated interests in world music — Siegel loves to travel to Asia — and a play on acoustic tones with electronic marvels.
On Indigo, Siegel informed his love stories with a sturdy yet comprehensive ensemble of hefty musicians: saxophonist Bob Sheppard, who can be heard throughout, weaving his elusive narrative; guitarists Allen Hinds and Mike Miller, keeping the memories in light, occasionally edgy Steely-Dan stringed echoes; vibist Craig Fundyga; percussionists Lenny Castro and Will Kennedy; bassist Bromberg, also co-producer; and two brass sections, featuring Alan Kaplan on euphonium, Stan Martin on flugelhorn, and Stephanie O’Keefe on horn, as well as Lee Thornburg (trumpet/valve trombone), and Steve Torok (tenor).
Lest too much of Indigo be given away to chance romantic encounters, Siegel inserts a little masculine levity of staunch and release in the lively, twisting sequence of “Spur Of The Moment.” The song contracts around a Steely Dan bridge as Siegel takes on the offset Donald Fagen role and the horn section runs in and out, reminiscent of the opening to all those 1970s sitcoms and dramas somehow. The pulp fiction of guitar seems to go on forever. It is Bromberg, Miller, and Kennedy (Yellowjackets) at their rock-jazz-bluesy best.
A second cousin comes in on a medium tempo but swinging for the rafters nonetheless in “Consider This,” which builds and builds and builds into a nice compromise by Siegel holding the keys literally in his punctuating hands. When he feasts on an array of choices at his disposal, the keyboardist manages to portray depth of human kindness in the warm tones, and a sexy juxtaposition of taut teasing before controlled eruption. The song ends much too early, prematurely if you will.
“To Be Continued” wants to chase after all those smooth jazz tracks that leave women breathless in the heady hits of sax and piano. This is the theme of the music that haunts Indigo as a whole, charming the listener into reaching for another hit over and over. The song would be nothing without Sheppard’s signature mark, vague, languid circles that Siegel pronounces through textured tones of his own steady accounts from within.
The songs, the players, their stories… it’s true love.
Look for Siegel to tour the Pacific Northwest for Indigo this spring.