Music Review: Dan Berg and The Gestalt - Manifesto
When listening to Dan Berg and the Gestalt's <i>Manifesto</i> you may find yourself thinking, "Is that the soundtrack from Cirque du Soleil?"
The first track, “Waiting for a Hit” begins to unfold and starts to sound more and more like the music I remember from the circus. Dan Berg and The Gestalt’s debut CD, Manifesto is an attention-getting entry into the world of, well, “world music”, jazz fusion, rock and classical. The inclusion of vocalist Kristin Young’s operatic soprano adds yet another dimension.
Joining Berg and Young are clarinetist Adrian Mira, alto saxophonist Jessica Lurie, bassist Matt Wigton and drummer Pat Agresta. Berg is a Philadelphia native and now lives in Brooklyn after having studied abroad — in Cuba. From his early training he has had a background in jazz and jazz piano, now complemented with Latin jazz.
Some listeners may find difficulty in relating to a few of the tracks. Berg speaks to them with the lyrics in “Timshel”: “Are you trying to understand? Squinting to see what I mean? Taste the glow of the shimmering sea…” and then a suggestion, “We’ve got to dig deeper, connect to life.” If you have to squint to “get it”, perhaps tracks 5 and 6 will better suit your ear. Track five, “Conexions” begins with a gentle melody that becomes a consistent and infectious groove ending in a soulful funk and rhythm and blues — an easily accessible piece. The fade out is a wink to Berg’s reggae influences and a nice segue to my favorite track on the CD. “Hook It Up” begins with a slow gypsy dance beat featuring the clarinet. Berg joins in on piano with a touch of modern r & b, picks up the pace a bit leading to a crescendo that includes the whole band. After a rousing climax, the piece returns to a slower more moody ending. With the various influences Berg displays in this, his debut CD, it will be interesting to watch his future productions and see which of those backgrounds steps to the forefront.