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Ghost Canyon

Title - Tiptoes
Artist - Max Highstein

For those unaware, Max Highstein is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and recording artist with roots in jazz, rock, and classical music.

His compositions boldly cross genres, yet brightly resonate with distinctive, ear-catching charm. Strong melodies, gem-like arrangements, and a deep emotional core run through all of his work, captivating the listener and drawing them into his world.

On Tiptoes, Highstein augments his evocative soprano saxophone sound with colorful touches of alto, tenor, and clarinet. Highstein rocks the alto and tenor saxes hard, and truly shines when he picks up the soprano. Avoiding the pinched, thin sound so often heard in the Smooth Jazz idiom, Highsteins tone is rich, expressive, and warm.

Soprano sax guru Joe Giardullo says, Max Highstein has a wonderful voice on the soprano, and I do not get to say that very often, really.

Highsteins expressive approach carries over to clarinet, as heard on the title track, and on Thats The Spot. Tasteful underpinnings of fretless bass and piano display his dexterity on those instruments throughout.

1. Tiptoes (3:27)
2. The Listener (4:15)
3. Meanwhile In The Backseat (4:47)
4. Thats The Spot (3:39)
5. All Bounced Up (3:22)
6. Skycap Bevnap (3:21)
7. The Reason To Be Happy (3:05)
8. Brothers Keeper (3:43)
9. The Weavers Tale (3:54)
10. Toe Trucker (3:16)
11. Path Of The Heart (4:48)

This quite delightful, and full bodied album opens on the flirty title track tiptoes and then the laid back, late night-infused The Listener, before bringing us the upbeat Meanwhile In The Backseat, the TV theme show-esque Thats The Spot, and then we get the gently frenetic All Bounced Up and the bountifully layered Skycap Bevnap.

Next up is the finger-snapping The Reason To Be Happy which is in turn backed by the free flowing majesty of Brothers Keeper, the more solemnly orchestrated The Weavers Tale, with the album rounding out on the fun and bubbly Toe Trucker, closing on the sweepingly ornate Path Of The Heart.

Several brilliant supporting players contribute. Guitar master Jeff Pevar (Ray Charles, CS&N, Little Feat) brings the funk. Cellist Ed Willett (Ricky Lee Jones, Honnalulu Symphony) crosses classical boundaries into jazz and rock with ease.

John Yoakums (Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, LA Phil) full-bodied flute playing nimbly adds color to two of the more jazz oriented tunes. Sax man Rusty Crutcher brings his iconic flavor to the final tune, Path Of The Heart. And drummer Mark Clark (Ottmar Liebert, James Taylor) lends uncanny musicality throughout.

Highstein grew up in a household filled with art and music. His father was a doctor, painter, and musician, and it was not uncommon for Max to hear a string quartet rehearsing in the living room.

He took clarinet lessons, switched to rock organ at 13, and studied jazz and classical piano at Goddard College in Vermont. Mozart, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and John Coltrane all resonated with Highstein and stimulated his ear.

He later did a stint as house piano tuner at the iconic jazz club, Blues Alley in DC, where he absorbed the music of an endless stream of giants like Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Horace Silver, Cecil Taylor, and others.

In his early 30s, Max Highstein moved to Los Angeles and earned two graduate degrees in psychology. This apparent detour led him right back to music. He developed a series of guided meditation programs, and composed the music backgrounds.

Then, backed by a handful of top LA studio musicians, he made his first solo instrumental recordings, Touch The Sky, and Stars, handily charting the NAC THE WAVE format of the time.

Max Highstein: Soprano, Alto, & Tenor Saxes, Clarinet, Piano, Organ, Fretless Bass
Ed Willett: Cello
Jeff Pevar: Guitar
John Yoakum: Flute
Rusty Crutcher: Alto & Tenor Sax on Path Of The Heart
Mark Clark: Drum Kit, Udu, Doumbek, Congas

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