Truth Against the World is Rothstein’s latest release where he has joined forces once again with Jankowski, Timko and Senatore, and adding the talents of drummers Andrea Valentini and Tom Cottone, saxophonist Kenny Gioffre, vocalist Audrey Martells and keyboardist Demetrios Pappas.
Of the 11 songs on the album, Rothstein wrote or co-wrote 10 of them. The lone exception is The Witness, composed by Steve Jankowski and Audrey Martells.
That unique voice of Rothstein’s guitar becomes immediately evident on the opening track, Perfect Storm. The effects employed by Rothstein are marvelous and add to his authenticity and singular approach. Pappas adds his cool keyboards as Sanatore (bass) and Cottone (drums) keep the groove alive. The horns are ablaze. This is an excellent start to a marvelous album.
SDPM follow after and is co-written by Rothstein and Jankowski. The slight funk swing is punctuated by the horns of Jankowski and Timko. Valentini takes over the drums on this track and the next. Rothstein again attacks with precision and aplomb. He plays with the cleanness of Santana and the funk of Eddie “Chank” Willis. Blues follows after and it is exactly what you’d expect from the title—a great Blues tune with marvelous approach by Rothstein and sweet and smooth percussion and horn sections. Ken Gioffre gets a fine sax solo along the way.
The Witness is by Jankowski and Audrey Martells. The horn section is on fire and Martells’ vocals are just as hot. If the horns remind you of Blood, Sweat & Tears, you shouldn’t be surprised. Jankowski, Timko, and Gioffre all spent time in that marvelous horn-based band. This may have been the hottest track on the album. And the blistering horns and riveting guitar continues into Mystic Mud (Rothstein/Jankowski/Senatore/Cottone). Jankowski’s sweet, muted trumpet is rolled sideways as
Rothstein comes in with a flanking attack. The whole band sways between relentless and at-ease.
Rothstein slows it all down with the graceful and touching Strum. Timko’s sax is the only horn on the track and Rothstein is in full glory. Senatore’s bass has some cool but understated lines. But the heat returns with Step Out. It is a rousing and lively number with excellent cool duets with guitar and sax and muted trumpet. Listen out for that cool, cool baritone sax. Just so fine. Then Hell Mary (Rothstein/Senatore/Martells) features Audrey’s vocals with the trio of Rothstein, Senatore, and Cottone. This is good stuff with more of a King Crimson sound from the band and Audrey’s unique contributions on vocals is marvelous.
Funk 7 sounds like it could have preceded the James Gang’s Funk 49 by 42, for sure. But the horns make this a great improvement. This is some bone-crushing funk, to be sure. Jankowski’s trumpet is wild and the rhythm section is spot-on. From Funk to Samba, CAB 804 follows in that cool Brasilian way. Gioffre’s flute is a great addition and the warm horn of Jankowski is a wonder. Excellent work and touching performances.
The album concludes with the title song, Truth Against the World. Rothstein says it was “the family motto of Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother’s family…It can mean something different for everyone. For me, the phrase captures the spirit of this CD. You won’t find anything artificial on this CD…It truly reflects my musical DNA that is equally rooted in various genres of both Rock and Jazz.” Well-said and on-target. It is an excellent description of what is found on Truth Against the World. The final track is hot and driving. It is as great as anything from the L.A. Express and the guitar is fantastic. I enjoy Rothstein’s approach to the construction of songs and to the implementation of those ideas in the performance.
Andy Rothstein’s Truth Against the World is a tour de force of the marriage (or at least the affair) of Jazz and Rock with Blues and Fusion coming over for the family reunion. Truth Against the World is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable albums of the year.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl