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In a day and age when so much of what is considered jazz is merely fluffy pop instrumental music designed for the safety of radio play, Lipstick Records is a godsend for fans of high-caliber, adventurous ensemble playing. The label's latest project joins two old pals – both veterans who have played everything from light pop-jazz to classical and powerhouse fusion – and places them in a free-flowing studio setting where anything is possible and the unexpected is bound to occur. The multi-faceted, multi-keyboardist Mitch Forman first met guitarist Chuck Loeb in the early '80s when the two toured for several years with Stan Getz. As the liner notes explain, "At our first rehearsal, we resolved to start our own band. It's taken almost two decades to get it together, during which time we've been distracted by John McLaughlin, Steps Ahead, Gary Burton, Wayne Shorter, and CNN. This year we were lucky enough to hook up with Anthony Jackson and Wolfgang Haffner. Metro was the result." As the band name might imply, despite being recorded and mixed in Bonn, Germany, Metro is very much a New York-style fusion jam designed to showcase both Forman and Loeb's talents as individuals as well as in tandem. Like any spontaneous eruption, the tunes are joyously all over the board stylistically. Fans of Loeb's generally easygoing DMP releases will be pleasantly surprised at his fiery electric guitar work on cuts like "Metro" and "Gravity," which begins as a haunting acoustic jaunt before turning up the flame for a free-for-all rock jam. Forman's many moods are also very apparent. He's reflective and passionate with his acoustic piano on the sweet "Third Person," then prowls like a starving tiger during some unrestrictive solos on both "Metro" and the bluesy B-3 fusion of "Grand Slam." Forman also enjoys experimenting with spacy synth sounds on the cool funk of "Jazzy Move" and the edgy "Earthplak."

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