February 2002

Gerald Veasley - On the Fast Track
Heads Up HUCD 3062
Released: 2001

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

[Reviewed on CD]Veasley, a native of Philadelphia who grew up musically in that city during the 1970s, is a bassist with a strong affinity for the six-string variety of that instrument. Having honed his chops playing in the funk/R&B/blues/gospel musical scene, Veasley has since spent time perfecting his craft playing with the Joe Zawinul Syndicate and with Grover Washington, Jr. As a matter of fact, Veasley has dedicated one track from On the Fast Track, "Good Bye Moon," to Washington.

It’s either talent or original thought that makes one notice someone from the smooth-jazz ranks today, and with Gerald Veasley, it’s talent. On the Fast Track displays Veasley’s ability to lay down a groove with his bass that'll catch your attention and hold it. Listen to the very first cut, "Waiting To Board," and hear how he sets the stage right from the start. His bass is deep, tight and prominent. And despite the preponderance of electronic instruments here, they are all easy to follow in the mix. Further yet, the dynamic swings are uncompressed.

Stylistically, Veasley breaks no new ground here. You will hear nothing on this album that you haven’t heard somewhere before. But that’s OK, as the talent and spirit displayed in the playing holds your attention. Much of the music is up-tempo, as you might expect given the title. But Veasley crosses up any attempt at pigeonholing his music by tossing in slower, more thought-provoking tunes, such as "Heaven To Earth."

I’m no fan of adult contemporary jazz, but it’s nice to run across an artist that you can not only listen to yourself, but also recommend to friends who are fans. Gerald Veasley is one such artist, and On the Fast Track is one such album. If music like this can inspire ACJ's listeners to seek out the musicians and styles who inspired Veasley, all the better.