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On The Coalition of the Willing, jazzers play instrumental rock. BOBBY PREVITE is a great and versatile drummer; joining him on all eight tracks is organist (and occasionally electric bassist) JAMIE SAFT, while guitarist CHARLIE HUNTER is on all but one track (and on that one, Saft adds guitar). Moving in and out of the lineup are saxophonist SKERIK and trumpeter STEVE BERNSTEIN (SEX MOB), always paired – my favorite track of their five, the juggernaut closer “Anthem for Andrea,” teams them with Previte and Saft in a dense, prog-y steamroller of sound. Also coming and going are second drummer STANTON MOORE (on one track only) and harmonica player STEW CUTLER. Cutler seems a little out of place on his first two tracks, but redeems himself in a duet of startling timbre combinations with Bernstein on “Memory Hole.”
Beyond the variety offered by the mixing and matching of these players, there’s an exceptional amount of style-hopping, from track to track and within pieces as well. Hunter shifts his sound so often he sounds like three or four different guitarists. Being familiar with most of these players, I can’t escape the sense that they’re holding back – they could go wild and play more freely, but here they always stick to the basic structures Previte gives them. But for what it is, The Coalition of the Willing still offers lots of small surprises, a few grins, and good compositions played with fire and energy.
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