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A spiritual quest

Rob Garcia's SANGHA - Heart's Fire
(Connection Works)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Sept. 23, 2007
Rob Garcia's SANGHA

Review by Wade Vonacek

In Buddhism, Sangha is one of the three pillars of faith, and roughly translates to "community." Rob Garcia's SANGHA is just that on its debut Heart's Fire. Although the recording features numerous solos, there is an underlying feeling of cohesiveness prevalent throughout, partly due to the drums and percussion provided by drummer/composer/bandleader Garcia, who formed the group as part of a spiritual quest, according to the CD's liner notes.

Yoon Sun Choi's vocals shine throughout, especially on "Be a Lover," where she tests her range on the chorus; the sultry "Is It Me," where she follows Adam Kolker's saxophone melody in the breakdown; and "Coming Here," with its soulful delivery. Other stand-outs include "Sangha," with Dave Ambrosio's rippling bass line, playful backing vocals, and piano and guitar interplay, courtesy of Daniel Kelly and Kenny Wessel respectively; the wavy air of the title track, featuring a scat vocal part and a moody middle section of expert dynamics; and the Latin-flavored "It's Ruby," with busy percussion, strong piano and bursts of flute from Michael Gentile.

Garcia co-produced the disc with Bennett Paster, as well as wrote all of the music and lyrics (except the title track). His varied background as a freelancer has suited him well as a composer, as Heart's Fire manages to showcase the talents of the musicians involved without losing the structure and identities of the songs.

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