LALO SCHIFRIN & FRIENDS (Aleph Records) * 1/2
Lalo Schifrin may be a good composer but as a jazz performer he leaves something to be desired — such as discipline, chops and that jazz "kick" that lights things on fire.
It's not that he's so bad, it's just that he doesn't compare well with some of the other jazz pianists out there. And he seems to have a hard time getting tight with the other musicians on the CD.
His fellow players fare better — particularly trumpeter James Morrison, who sizzles on the opening track, "Besame Mucho," and James Moody's saxophone on "Fast Forward" and "Hymn to Freedom."
Some tracks jell better than others, but even the other performers sometimes seem to have a hard time getting into a groove together. Part of it is that they don't always hit the beat together (when they sound like they're trying to), and part of it is that they just lack chemistry (with a couple of exceptions).
Schifrin's diversity as a composer comes through on the album — while the CD is unified by his style, each of the tracks has its own personality. And one can definitely hear various influences in the music — film and TV music, for example.
This CD might appeal to Schifrin fans, and individual tracks (such as "Besame Mucho") stand out. But overall, this would possibly only have moderate appeal to the average audience.