Somebody Else’s Nightmare
Strength And Kindness
Review by Dan MacIntosh         


Fortuitously, and also quite truthfully, mentions Zawinul in its ‘Recommended if You Like’ section under Somebody Else’s Nightmare because a track called “Worker Bees” features a great Jaco Pastorius-like bass line – much like the sort he used to regularly contribute to the band Weather Report. (This, of course, was a Zawinul-led act). Strength and Kindness is a solid collection of jazz-fusion songs.

You usually think of electronic instrumentation when considering jazz-fusion music. However, this album’s title cut begins with an acoustic bass line, which is later joined by drums, then saxophone and piano. It’s a swinging, straight ahead jazz tune and quite likeable. While Zawinul was best known for his jazz-fusion experimentation with Weather Report, that group’s music was much more rooted in traditional jazz music than much of what’s come after in the name of jazz-fusion. Zawinul, as you may recall, was also involved in Miles Davis’ early fusion explorations, and when he (and Zawinul) composed and performed jazz fusion music together, it was not merely the instrumental pop we too often hear today. Instead, these skilled players were merely transferring their jazz chops onto electric instruments, while the complicated creativity remained the same. This is why Weather Report’s music was (and is) so respected. This was quality music that just happened to be played on instruments more closely associated with rock and pop genres.

While Somebody Else’s Nightmare is a jazz band, this act is also not above experimenting with styles not usually associated with jazz, as well. Take “The Light Will Show The Way,” for instance, includes a rapped vocal on the verses. Performed over a funky jazz groove that also features a nice electric piano solo, this tune reveals how jazz music and rap have a lot in common. When you think about it, there was also a strong association between beat poetry and bebop back in the 50s, and rap music is, in many ways, an extension of early musical-poetry experiments.

There are times when song titles and the music they’re matched to are perfectly placed together. Other times, though, the name of a song doesn’t sound much at all like the sounds. One such instance here is “Drones.” When drones come to mind, unmanned warplanes are conjured up in the mind. Therefore, you’d expect the music to be powerful and destructive. Not so, however, with this cut. Instead, a rather gentle, thoughtful tune is placed with this warring song title. It’s surprising, to say the least.

--Note from Joe,

Drones is one of the pieces from the Bee Suite, a series of 9 compositions about the life of the Bee. Here is what I wrote in the liner notes - "This speaks of the sadness of being a drone, hearing their call and realizing their purpose.  As the queen leaves the hive for the first and last time flying miles straight up in the air, the drones follow to mate with her. They wait for this one day and their job is done.  The harmonic energy towards the end of the piece evokes their moment of joy." Thats why at the end of the piece, you can hear them buzzing.---

Back to the review

In contrast, that slightly snarky “Generic Happy Song” is a title that snugly fits. It’s an upbeat song that comes off a little like a TV show theme song. It not only features a fine saxophone solo, but also sports a rocking electric guitar solo.
This brings us to the band name: Someone Else’s Nightmare, which reads like the title to a Halloween-related film. The music found with, though, is mostly straight up jazz. That may be a nightmarish thought to young people that only like pop music, say, or dudes really into heavy metal. It’s not nightmarish –at least not on the surface.
There’s a whole lot of jazzy variety on this album that will likely please many different types of jazz music fans. While it’s fusion music, it’s also high quality music. Therefore, even stubborn jazz traditionalists will at least respect the musicianship, even though it may not match their particular preferences.

The album title is a great one, Strength and Kindness. It takes a lot of strength to be kind, simply because many times when we’re kind to others, these others do not reciprocate with similar kindness. It’s extremely difficult to find a jazz album that pleases everybody, but one supposes the new Somebody Else’s Nightmare comes pretty close to hitting that mark.