Max Highstein, Tiptoes Review
by Ferell Aubre
A multi-instrumentalist, Max Highstein brings forth much more than musical ideas; he imbues his music with a textualization of knowing. A deep acumen of complexity and joy is entwined in each note. His latest release, Tiptoes, might be a lighthearted listen, but it is in its melodies we find the genius. Highstein is joined on this album by guitarist Jeff Pevar (Ray Charles, CS&N, Little Feat). Cellist Ed Willett (Ricky Lee Jones, Honolulu Symphony). On flute, John Yoakum’s (Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, LA Phil). Drummer Mark Clark (Ottmar Liebert, James Taylor) and fellow saxist Rusty Crutcher lends his alto and tenor saxophone on “Path Of The Heart.”
The Highstein original “Tiptoes” opens the album. The ensemble creates an imagery that the title implies as the various instruments layer in against a steady percussion and drum anchor. Highstein’s choice in ensemble players is excellent, and his writing is sensible and personal to each color in the ensemble. The melody has a familiar flow and an instant charm that pulls you into the music’s many textures. The slinky melody is supported by running sub-motifs amid the many climaxes through the song’s form. The musicians create each section refresh and renew, held up by Clark’s dexterous drums and shifting cymbal swashes.
“All Bounced Up” is a Highstein original with a happy shuffle feel that is a fine vehicle for his creative writing style. His music lives in a musical space between pop, jazz, and rock. His writing lets each perform let their artistic voice ring clear, and together they form a very cohesive unit. Highstein is all about striving for something unique and personal in a way that is indeed prescient and highly musical.
In a world filled with serious thoughts and unsurety, Tiptoes softly walks into your psyche and lifts the weight of the world with its grooving melodies, jaunting explorations, and continental exquisiteness.