If you consider “Unknown Angels” a complete departure from his previous works (Tony’s vocals, folk-ish song structures, recurring melodies, and adventurous new-age-world-jazz feel), then “Elevation” is a return to form. I am a huge fan of Tony in general, first being exposed to him via his time early on with Hiromi Uehara. Overall “Elevation” is a great album, and has me very curious already for what’s in store next from a man that has very quickly established himself not only as a fantastic bass player, but a very deep, creative, and original song writer and arranger.  I was fortunate to receive my copy from Abstract Logix (http://www.abstractlogix.com/xcart/product.php?productid=25862) prior to the actual release date on Oct 15 2013, so I figured I’d take the time to write up a review of each track.
Track 1 “Guiding Light”: This is a reinterpretation of one of my favorite songs from the album “Chasing Shadows”. This time around it super chill; a good Sunday afternoon ride. Nir’s guitar work is harmonically adventurous, pushing the boundaries of what would be considered a standard tonal structure. There’s also some trippy electronic stuff. I think Nir is a great pairing for Tony’s creative and fresh approach. 

Track 2 “Chicks Chums”: A typical Tony deep pocket rhythm with melodic gymnastics from John Mclaughlin. Interestingly enough, John’s guitar tone reminds me more of John Scofield than what I’ve come to know of John’s work. Overall the tune has that same fusion feel from Tony’s first two albums. 

Track 3 “Freedom Jazz Dance”: Tony and Fuze; a perfect fusion pair if there ever was one! Oddly enough, it reminds me of an Oz Noy song in both structure and melody. Another standard Tony fusion thing, with Dave doing his wacky guitar stuff that I love, and making it work well. 

Track 4 “Floating River Yangtze”: Another reinterpretation off his first album “moving”. It still has that great Eastern-Asian inspired melody, but with a feel that makes me think blue grassy back beat. Fuze’s wacky playing style lends itself well to this tune. There’s some really nice, full bass towards the end, again reminding me of the blue grass feel. 

Track 5 “Galactic Samurai”: A very melodically cool tune. It starts with this really huge sounding guitar piece, and continues on very fluidly with that Tony jazz fusion pushing shuffle feel, but also kind of floaty. I was not familiar with Hotei Tomoyasu prior, but the guitar work great; funky, big, intense, and in your face. 

Track 6 “Elevation”: Reb Beach tears it up on the title track. Another relatively “standard” Tony fusion tune, though I think his solo bass tone is particularly sweet on this one. There’s a very catchy head melody that Tony and Reb sync up on, which is very cool. Reb also does this almost djenty style rhythm in sections, a kind of heavy, funky blend that’s unexpected but welcome. The whole song has a kind of rock hero sound to it. 

Track 7 “Walking In, Walking Out”: Yet another reinterpretation, this time with the legendary Mike Stern. As usual, Stern has a fantastic tone that matches the tune so very well. On the whole this one is pretty similar to the original, at least when compared to the two earlier on the album. Stern’s feel is a great choice for reinterpretation though. 

Track 8 “Dil Chahata Hai”: Similar to the first track with Nir, it’s another reworked tune made mellower. The solo has Nir doing some ear bending harmonies against the tonal changes again…it’s definitely a very different approach, but as we’ve come to expect from Tony, refreshingly different. 

Track 9 “Solar”: An awesome tune with a laid-back, more traditional jazz feel. Fuze is a great choice on guitar again, and I really dig Tony’s tone. There’s a great atmosphere and sense of space set with the drums as well. My only complaint is that the tune is so short; make more like this in the future Tony! 

Track 10 “Someday My Prince Will Come”: Based on the Walt Disney Classic, this tune start off in a manner that had me thinking it would go the direction like something off “Unknown Angels”. Not so though, as just after the 1:20 mark the main/familiar melody comes in, and then it turns into something that makes me think Joe Pass.