Since Forever (Naim Jazz) by Fred Simon is a jazz album that is very engaging when it has to be, moving when it goes there, and delicate in all of the appropriate places. On this album, Simon not honors jazz in all of its traditions, specifically the bebop and hard bop side, but also plays songs in a way that will appeal to smooth jazz and new age fans. The new age element caught me by surprise because I wasn’t expecting it for while I was hearing him and Paul McCandless (saxophone, oboe, English horn, bass clarinet, duduk), Steve Rodby (acoustic bass), and Mark Walker (drums) play melodically smooth, it went to a completely different place a number of times.
What I also like is his tendency to move in and out of… maybe that’s not the right terminology. I like his tendency to weave in his Jewish side in the music so along with jazz you’ll occasionally hear folk tunes, or a style of playing that one might hear in klezmer. It’s not jazz folk or folk jazz as we may be more familiar with, but it’s great to hear the way Simon does it, casually as if all music should sound this way.
There’s so many great songs here, from “Song Of The Sea” to “beginning/Middle/End”, but one that is sure to gain a lot of attention from Miles Davis fans is Simon’s cover of the Joe Zawinul composition, “In A Silent Way”. It seems a bit more personal in this case, still performed at the song’s slow pace, but almost as a means of praise and acknowledgment through music, culture, and influence, Simon’s “silent way” of simply saying thank you.
As with any recording on Naim, the recording on this is superb, wonderfully captured by Ken Christianson and Tyrel Williams and edited by bassist Rodby, who also had a major hand in how these songs were arranged according to the liner notes by Simon. Since Forever is a wonderful recording from start to finish, and if they were in your presence, you’d want to bow and acknowledge their collective greatness.