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In The "Seduction Zone"
on November 20, 2006
Nowadays, in part due to the noodlings of Kenny G., it is common to dismiss instrumental pop and rock music as nothing more than glorified Muzak, even though quite a few of those instrumental records have endured over time. Such is the case with this album from German-born band leader and arranger James Last which was originally released in 1980.
Straddling the worlds of disco, synth-pop, new wave, and smooth jazz, this is a thoroughly underappreciated ten-track collection of instrumental pop. All but two of the tracks were composed either by Last himself or by his son Ronald Last, and are extremely inventive combinations of jazz-rock fusion influences and synthesizers. The two non-original ones both have their origins in Giorgio Moroder's score for the Paul Schrader-directed 1980 film AMERICAN GIGOLO. One of them is "Night Drive", whose main melody is derived from the Blondie song "Call Me" that is on the AMERICAN GIGOLO soundtrack. The other one, of course, is "The Seduction", this album's title track and that movie's haunting love theme, with an uncredited alto sax solo by David Sanborn. That track was widely played on the radio and actually peaked at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1980.
Last's "band", so to speak, consists of a lot of great musicians, including string arranger Sid Sharp; drummer Rick Marotta; guitarists Robert "Waddy" Wachtel and Lee Ritenour; keyboardists Don Grolnick and Michael Boddicker; bassist Abe Laboriel; and sax maestro Ernie Watts. All combine on this album for a lush but not syrupy experience from a time when production gimmickry had yet to swamp the recording process. A hugely worthwhile album for anyone with a taste for instrumental pop and rock of a compelling kind.