October 19, 2018
LehCats, which is co-led by reed player Norbert Stachel and flutist-singer Karen Stachel, can be thought of as their version of World Jazz as reflected by the mixture of musical cultures that they experience in the San Francisco Bay area. The Stachels, who are joined by a variety of rhythm section players who bring in rhythms from across the globe, perform original melodies that reflect the influences of many cultures, particularly from Latin and South America with a taste of the Mideast (“Meshugaza”) and Africa.
Movement To Egalitaria salutes a fictional land where human rights reign supreme; sort of like the idealized (if somewhat lost) dream of the United States. Norbert Stachel is featured on flute, tenor (taking a fiery solo on “Step On It”), alto, soprano and bass clarinet while Karen Stachel is heard on flutes, piccolo and an occasional vocal. Among the other soloists who make strong impressions are pianists Axel Laugart and Edsel Gomez, guitarists Mike Stern (who is blazing on “Doppler Effect”) and Bob Lanzetti, and bassist Peter Washington. The large supporting cast includes such notables as drummer Lenny White, bassist Lennie Plaxico, guitarists Ray Obiedo and Will Bernard, and percussionist Pete Escovedo.
The music, even with its variety of rhythms, is primarily straight ahead (although with a few funkier selections), melodic and swinging. The fresh melodies, happy and optimistic vibes, and high musicianship make Movement To Egalitaria a musical journey well worth taking. Los Angeles Jazz Scene - Scott Yanow