John Cariddi – Come Together – Guavajamm Entertainment GJE00018, 52:47 ***:
(John Cariddi – guitars; Dennis Bell – keyboards and midi programming)
Things begin interestingly enough with a nicely reworked version of the Beatles’ well-known title tune. Synth bass and drums start off, keyboards chime in, and the leader deftly states the melody over alternate changes. A competent if somewhat pedestrian keyboard solo comes next followed by a more interesting solo from the leader where he demonstrates considerable technique lightly worn. That’s followed by a synth bass solo that seems like little more than filler, rounded out by pleasant guitar riffing against an appealing keyboard figure. Marvin Gaye’s huge hit “What’s Goin’ On?” gets a Latin lite treatment where Cariddi again spins off an interesting solo. Already, though, the synth background sounds are beginning to cloy. “Armando’s Rhumba” by Chic Corea maintains the Latin approach, and Caridda struts his stuff with a nifty electro-acoustic solo even as the backgrounds become increasingly annoying. The TLC hit “Waterfalls” slouches toward mediocrity; things pick up slightly with a soulful “Fire & Rain,” but it’s too little too late. Three originals by keyboardist/producer Bell are throwaways.
Cariddi obviously has lots of chops, but he would be better served playing in a live band with genuine, real-time musical partners rather than smothered in the saccharine embrace of homogenized synthesizers and midi programming.
TrackList: Come Together, What’s Goin’ On?, Armando’s Rumba, Waterfalls, Come Into My Room, Sloppy Seconds, Fire & Rain, BWA, You Gotta Be
– Jan P. Dennis