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'Star Wars' makeovers highlight new album from saxophonist Steve Torok
(Published: January 04, 2016)

The Force has certainly awakened in the imagination of saxophonist Steve Torok, who pays homage to George Lucas' Star Wars empire in a trio of makeovers on his latest album, Eye to Eye.

Torok doesn't just reshape John Williams' enduring compositions into jazz numbers; he breathes new life into them and makes them his own, delivering invigorating performances that transcend novelty covers. His affection for the material cannot be doubted; the stellar musicianship and breathless energy he showers them with reveal a true-blue fan.

"Cantina Swing" is as entertaining and catchy as the original but Torok has transformed it into a Big Band jam. Torok's explosive sax and Reggie Hamilton's pummeling bass produce the most exuberant of otherworldly grooves. Rambunctious piano and Rayford Griffin's huge, crashing drums kick it into interstellar overdrive. The group is having the time of their lives playing this, and it shows. "Main Theme Mambo" turns Williams' soaring anthem into a Brazilian dancefloor scorcher. Lenny Castro's jubilant percussion blows the roof off. And then there's "Imperial Funk," which transforms the Empire's dark death march into a party rave.

But it's not all science-fiction craziness. Most of the record reveals the versatility of Torok, a professor at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California, from the smooth jazz of "Blue Skies" to the soulful tropical breeze of "Summertime."

More Information: http://stevetorok.com

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