Bob Baldwin wasn't the first artist to name a project after his website -- Fattburger and Jethro Tull both beat him to the punch -- but the funk-jazz keyboard whiz's Bobbaldwin.com devotes its liner notes to reminding us to enjoy technology but not let it take over for our heart and soul. Baldwin puts his music where his words are, using his synth rack to create numerous busy, often retro-soul textures, but, at heart, his graceful yet punchy melodies shine through at all times. He has a good time with titles, moving from the cool hip-hop of "eSmooth" (which features his trademark high-register swirling solos between revisits to the sax-driven hook) through "Westchester Online" (with a playful cat and mouse game between Dean James's soprano and Joey Summerville's bouncy trumpet) and then on to the album's most unusual piece, "Overtime (In the Chatroom)." As if to make a point about what too much cybertalk can do to one's sensibilities, Baldwin offers no defining pop melody, instead darting in and out with percussive avant-garde synth lines, clicking wah-wah guitars, and an occasionally smooth soprano line from Marion Meadows, over floating, hypnotic atmospheres. Most of the other material is smartly played and very in-the-pocket, from the opening cover of "Never Can Say Goodbye" (with crackling guitar passages and harmonies by Chuck Loeb) and the brassy party tune "Funkin' for Jamaica," featuring trumpeter Tom Browne and the harmonic blend of the saxes of Gerald Albright, Marion Meadows, and Fred Vigdor.
- Jonathan Widran