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Drummer Terry Silverlight was first heard on brother Barry Miles's White Heat album in 1971 when he was only 14 years old. The two have worked together steadily since. But Silverlight has also logged many miles as rhythm man on jazz dates (Mel Torme, Eric Kloss, Phil Woods), fusion records (George Benson, Jonathon Butler, Tom Grant), the Top 40 hits of Freddie Jackson and Billy Ocean as well as many commercials, TV shows and film scores too. Indeed, there are probably few, if any, styles the drummer hasn't already successfully tackled.
On his self-titled solo debut, Silverlight opts for an instrumental fusion sound that fondly recalls a style that's at least a decade old. Such groups as Weather Report, Steps Ahead, Pieces of a Dream and Special EFX patented these formulas. But this style - which evolved from "jazz rock" in the 1970s - has since degenerated into snoozy adult contemporary music that's purposely easy to listen to (or ignore). Clearly, Silverlight invests his passion in this music and is determined to bring back some of the fire to which fusion aspired.
This set finds Silverlight exploring a variety of often up-tempo moods benefited mostly by the muscularity the drummer brings to his melodic originals. There's little extraverted improvisation (with the nice exception of brother Barry's lovely solo on "Redwinged Sparrow"). But the musicians contribute a positive warmth to Silverlight's glowing moods. There's the celebratory Zawinul-like groove of "Someday Beneath The Sun" and "Soul Mate," the Tony Williams force-of-nature rock of "Taking Twos" and "Soul Mate," the snaky Jeff Lorber Fusion (old school) dance grind of "Planet Rhythm" and an Earl Klugh funk to "Let There Be Silverlight" (featuring guitarist Jeff Ciampa).
The two reed players (Bob Kenmotsu, Danny Wilensky) exchange leads, investing similar affinities for the Grover Washington sound (most apparent on slower tempos like "The Love of My Life" and "Peace on Earth"). Silverlight's keen rhythmic sensibilities make it disappointing to hear the occasional drum machine. But the drummer's imaginatively constructed compositions never leave the listener to linger long on such distractions.
Silverlight, whose variety of talents here will impress listeners in and out of the often-binding fusion genre, has crafted a fine debut. Whether he chooses to explore be-bop or even acid jazz - next, he's got the chops (and the understanding) to carry it through with conviction. Terry Silverlight is proof.
Songs:Someday Beneath The Sun; The Love Of My Life; On Fire; Planet Rhythm; Magic Rainbow; Soul Mate; Taking Twos; Peace on Earth; Let There Be Silverlight; Redwinged Sparrow.
Players:Terry Silverlight: drums, synthesizers and synth programming; Barry Miles: piano on "On Fire" and "Redwinged Sparrow"; Bob Kenmotsu, Danny Wilensky: Soprano and tenor sax; Jeff Ciampa: acoustic guitar.