Friday, June 16, 2023

Michael Franklin & Timothy Franklin: “Anahata” (2023) CD Review

Brothers Michael Franklin and Timothy Franklin have each played and recorded with a great number of talented artists over the years, and now on Anahata, they perform their own excellent original compositions. Tim Franklin plays bass and acoustic bass, and Michael Franklin plays organ, piano, keyboard, and synthesizer. They are joined by some tremendous players, with different musicians playing on each track, though some, such as guitarist Tommy Calton, saxophonist Charlie DeChant and drummer Marc Clement Jr., play on multiple tracks. This album was produced by Michael Franklin.

The album opens with “Shinkansen,” a great funky beast with a strong pulse, ready to force you to your feet. This track, written by Michael Franklin, is delicious and powerful from the moment it starts. After all, this track features the Tower of Power horns. Emilio Castillo is on alto saxophone, Stephen Kupka is baritone saxophone, Tom E. Politzer is on tenor saxophone, Adolfo Acosta is on trumpet, and Sal Cracchiolo is on trumpet. So there is just no way to deny the joy and energy of this track. In addition to the horns, this track features some very cool and exciting work on keys, guitar and bass. That’s Tommy Calton on guitar. Marc Clermont Jr. is on drums, and Steady Joseph is on percussion. What a great way to open the album. They switch gears with “The Wall,” which has a brief, odd opening before settling into a nice groove. This track makes interesting use of percussion throughout, and we got a hint of that in that opening moment. This track features also some really nice work by Steve Walters on trumpet and flugelhorn, and by Charlie DeChant on saxello (a variation on the soprano saxophone). Plus, I love that keyboard part. There is joy to the playing here too, though the vibe is quite a bit different from that opening track. This one was composed by Tim Franklin.

Michael Franklin and Timothy Franklin take us in yet another direction with “Ave For Josephine.” This one begins with some beautiful work on strings. Olga Kolpakova is violin, and Paul Fluery is on cello. A note on the back of the CD case indicates that this album was recorded over a span of time (though not specifying just low long a span that was), and this track features Larry Coryell on guitar, so this album has been in the works for at least six years. This is a moving and gorgeous track, and of course the guitar work is wonderful. On this one, Michael Franklin, who composed the piece, plays a grand piano, and Tim Franklin plays a fretless bass. This is one of my personal favorites. It is followed by “Maynardvishnu,” which has a rather playful, light opening before the drums lead to a great, bright burst of energy, a wild and exciting sound with some cool, funky work on bass and Michael’s work on keys taking things into a more progressive realm. Donnie Rogozinski plays trumpet, contributing to that bright, lively vibe. Several different voices contribute to this piece, each getting a moment to lead, and it all works so well. I love the saxophone work on this track. Danny Jordan is on tenor saxophone, and Charlie DeChant plays baritone saxophone. And then there is a lead on bass that seems to dance on a string of lights. But perhaps my favorite element of this track is that fantastic work on drums. That’s Billy Cobham. This one ends much too soon.

Things then relax somewhat for “The River Runs Through Memphis,” a track with a much smoother vibe, one that has soothing touch. Something about this one makes me feel really good. It has a sort of late-night vibe, but with a bit more energy. Michael Franklin plays grand piano, organ and synthesizer on this track, and those different sounds work perfectly together. And that tenor sax work is wonderful. That’s Charlie DeChant again. Paul Parker plays drums on this track. This is another of the disc’s highlights. That is followed by “Just Say So,” an interesting piece. As it begins, there is some really nice percussion from Steady Joseph. Then a heavy, industrial sound begins to come in, dominating the landscape. We get the feeling of people at work in some serious, mechanized place, yet that more natural percussion sound is still in there, that more human aspect at the heart. And James Hosmer’s work on trombone seems to urge everyone to continued action. This track features some excellent work on bass, and it was written by Tim Franklin. As the piece is approaching its climax, there is a cool section with the guitar and keys trading licks. That’s Bill Boris on guitar.

“Chiba Chan” has a lighter feel, with quicker movements, that rhythm pushing things forward. There is a sense of being busy, of constant motion, but no stress. Rather, there is a good deal of cheer. This one was composed by Tim Franklin, and it features the work of Charlie DeChant, who plays baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, saxello and flute. Billy Cobham is on drums, Jason Han is on percussion, and Jim Gentry plays guitar. The album then concludes with “Pavanne For Deborah Ann,” written by Michael Franklin. Here things slow down, creating an interesting atmosphere at the beginning. On this track, the brothers are not joined by any other musicians. This track breathes, and has a beauty that washes over you. And it gently lets us go at the end.

CD Track List

  1. Shinkansen
  2. The Wall
  3. Ave For Josephine
  4. Maynardvishnu
  5. The River Runs Through Memphis
  6. Just Say So
  7. Chiba Chan
  8. Pavanne For Deborah Ann

Anahata is available now on CD through Solar Music, and apparently there is a vinyl edition that will be available in October.

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