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Planet Zu Featuring Daniel Baraszu — In the Light of Day

Feb. 25, 2011

This debut release from Planet Zu Featuring Daniel Baraszu, In the Light of Day, is one that admittedly caught me a little by surprise when I first saw the cover art and heard the band’s name. Hmm, what have we here?? What we have is some really tight, melodic, well-structured contemporary jazz with girth. Be it a cover or an original, guitarist Baraszu and Co. do it justice here.

The band is comprised of musicians who, upon hearing this project, prove that they, as individuals, can easily stand on their own merits.  Reading their press sheet, their credentials prove that convincingly. In fact, one member, bassist Joseph Patrick Moore was featured here when he released his album To Africa With Love in May 2010, a powerful fusion project.  So, Baraszu chose well in pulling this band together.

Some of the tracks are smooth and mellow, like that chilled-out stroll along the beach (e.g., “Carolina Sunrise,” “Morning Song,” and the title track) while others like the Hammond B3-heavy “One With Fire” and “Happy Hoo Hah,” with its solid drumming, can kick up a bit more dust and get the rhythm going in your dancing shoes.

Baraszu’s ability to concoct great melodies just right for jazz is pretty impressive and fits this project like a glove. A couple of cases in point would be his solid work on, among other tracks, “The Land of a Thousand Treasures,” a tune with a cozy, Benson-like mid-tempo cadence, and “You Got It, a mid-tempo funky jam with a really cool fabric and nice voicings. The Hammond adds that extra punch, by the way. This may be my favorite piece on the album.

Baraszu’s interpretation of  the legendary Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” shows his comfort level, confidence, and imagination on another’s turf, especially that of one as respected as Santana.  Impressive job indeed.  Great job.

All in all, Planet Zu flaunted its stuff on Planet Earth via this CD in style and handsome form.  A very  strong performance. — Ronald Jackson