(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., August 29, 2002) - One of the most striking things about the Reverend Tor's new CD, 'Jamazon,' is how little actual jamming there is on the album. True, the album kicks off with with the 12-plus minute 'Inside Out of Control,' with about eight- or nine-minutes worth of instrumental soloing. But it's one of only three songs that clock in over six minutes on the 11-song, 63-minute recording. This is a good thing. Without well-crafted songs, jam-band albums tend to grow stale or irrelevant after the first listen. But the good news about Rev. Tor's new album, it's fourth, is that it is built on the solid foundation of well-crafted songs written by lead singer songwriter Tor Krautter, songs that touch down in a variety of genres, including blues, rock 'n' roll, bluegrass, country, western swing and horn-inflected r&b. First-rate musicianship is supplied by a stellar cast of local and regional musicians as well as a handful of bona fide national stars, including Grateful Dead pianist and former Steve Reich sideman Tom Constanten, New Riders of the Purple Sage pedal steel guitarist Buddy Cage, whose sideman credits include Bob Dylan, David Bromberg and Robert Hunter, banjoist Gordon Stone, and Mark Mercier of Max Creek. 'Staring at the Sun' features harmony vocals by JoAnne Redding and a funky, three man horn section provided by Charlie Tokarz, Jeff Stevens and Steve Ide. 'Their World' has a Middle Eastern motif bubbling inside before exploding into a Southern-rock jam. With it's reference to Pittsfield nightspot LaCocina, where the Rev. Tor Band and other regional groove outfits often perform, the song is sure to be a hometown fan favorite. Krautter hits just the right jazzy notes on 'Charlie's Obsession,' a nod to Charlie Brown of 'Peanuts' fame laced with Pete Adams's pedal steel guitar and delicious honky-tonk piano by Max Creek keyboardist Mark Mercier on top of swinging rhythms supplied by Bobby Sweet on acoustic guitar, Dan Broad on standup bass and Rick Leab on drums. Krautter's vocals range from a Garcia-like tenor to a Billy Joel like growl to a Greg Allman-like blues wail. 'Sorry But I'm Leaving' and the title track show that Rev. Tor is as solid handling newgrass as rock-based jams. It's hard to lose with first-rate players like steel guitarist Buddy Cage, pianist Mercier and banjoist Gordon Stone who all take solos on the tune, but just as surprising are Krautter's acoustic guitar solo and producer Adam Michael Rothberg's work on mandolin. If the jam-band thing doesn't work out, Rev. Tor has a future on the bluegrass circuit. Some tunes, like 'Lady of the Night,' favor the twin-guitar attack of the Allman Brothers, with Bobby Sweet doubling Krautter's lead lines. The album ends with the quiet ballad, 'One More Song,' featuring Krautter on acoustic guitar with bass and piano provided by Rothberg. The sum effect suggests there is little Krautter cannot do and do well. Not that 'Jamazon' will disappoint jam-band fans. The kickoff track includes a space jam worthy of the Grateful Dead's signature space jams, with Krautter's dreamy, Jerry Garcia-like guitar noodling over Scott Guberman's drippy organ chords, before changing direction and incorporating some truly weird ambient sounds, before returning to the song's theme, which wouldn't be out of place on a Robert Cray album.
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