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Published: 2016/12/29
by Larson Sutton

Steve DiStanislao
Solar Flare

When a drummer leads a group, especially one concentrated on instrumental material from titans like Keith Jarrett and Wayne Shorter, as well as originals that rest comfortably in a laid-back bed of jazz-fusion, it may be a little surprising that his high-profile resume’ includes time with David Gilmour, David Crosby, and Chris Robinson. Yet, that’s just what Steve DiStanislao (Stevie D.) has done with Solar Flare. First, this isn’t an excuse for DiStanislao to prove to anyone his versatility. For one, he’s earned an impeccable reputation for being a first-class drummer who serves the music, and not the ego. Not surprising, Solar Flare is rich with camaraderie that supports and showcases each of the quintet in generously beneficial ways. Whether Paul Carman’s sax, Mark Massey’s keys, or Carl Verheyen’s guitar, the road is clear for funky trips that detour into dynamic swells or quiet breaths. Verheyen, of Supertramp fame, reveals a hint of his pedigree, but more in the way Walter Becker lends jazz to Steely Dan’s rock, Verheyen brings rock to jazz. The interactions between the five are natural, flowing, and clean, and anything but button-downed. The dialogue between DiStanislao and bassist Kevin Axt, near symbiotic, allows for the wanderings into the outer space of Ornette Coleman’s “Turnaround” to stay secured, though with a long, long cable, to a foundation back on Earth. Given the demand for DiStanislao and his mates, it would be understandable if Solar Flare is an occasional, serendipitous side-project, but a debut album like this one pleads for more from these five.

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