"The Mystery of Life" (2009) review by Susan Frances
Guitarist, composer and bandleader Karen Segal takes a prodigious leap in jazz fusion with her debut record The Mystery Of Life. Some featured musicians on the recording include bass players Perry Thoorsell and Marcus Shelby, drummers Alan Hall and Ricky Carter, and percussionist Brian Rice. The Mystery Of Life is a musical manifesto that documents Segal s influences from the bluesy styled arcs of John Scofield to the eclectic rock imagery of Pat Metheny along with volumes of smooth bronzing which she puts on acid-tinted jazz and multi-colored patterns. She pays homage to her mentors while sustaining an individuality in her music that may be described as ethereal-meshed jazz. Written, arranged and produced by Segal, The Mystery Of Life has a soft brushing interrupted periodically by sizzling guitar sparks and winded tossing that makes for an album which stimulates the cells of the mind and stirs feeling in the tips of the limbs. The Latin flavoring of What Goes Around has a weightless feel in its spins and extensions, which shift into a series of sexy, cha-cha shimmies on the rhythmic patterns of Come With Me. The guitar inflections are buoyed by the elegant grazing of her finger movements as the bongo-styled beats protrude with an island sway. The gentle, breezy strokes in tracks like Moonrise, After The Storm, and Lost have an ethereal lift, which transform into molten acid tones in Epiphany. The bluesy bass ripples of Blues For Wes And Kenny support Segal's plush, shimmering chords tones, and the wavy ruffles donning the title track display a nomadic wandering. The exotic sound effects and island flare of Lilah Rose have a world music coloring, and the soft, contemplative musings coasting along I Believe radiate with a romantic touch that is deeply in tuned to human emotions. Segal plays from her heart while listening to her mind. Her music is conducive to supper club ambiences and induces feel-good vibrations in the listener's ears. The songs are amenable and hospitable making listeners feel welcomed by surrounding them in easy listening tunage and reclining motions.
"The Mystery of Life" (2009)
San Francisco guitarist Karen Segal offers a particularly free-spirited style of jazz on her latest album, The Mystery of Life. The music is largely inspired by classic guitar jazz and bebop, but Segal has lived, performed, and traveled around the world, so hints of other styles show up throughout the disc. The bouquet of influences makes for a diverse, entertaining instrumental experience that s likely to appeal to a broad range of listeners.
"The Mystery of Life" (2009) review by David Hewitt
"Lots of mystery, lots of life. This is a wonderful album. Segal and her small group explore an appealing range of moods, from playful to abstract to deeply meditative. It has the earmarks of an ECM-type recording without feeling weighed down by the stark gravity which sometimes typifies that label's releases. The compositional quality (no covers here) is generally creditable and at times - as with the standout tracks 'Moonrise' and 'What Goes Around' - it achieves true excellence. Segal is a fine guitarist who doesn't feel the need to take center stage or remind the listener of her virtuosity - the emphasis throughout is precisely where it should be: on the group dynamic, and the rich expressiveness of the songs."
“I’m writing to recommend guitarist Karen Segal who played at our wedding recently. Her contribution was delightful in every way. First, she’s a terrific musician. The proof is in the performance. Guests truly appreciated her music. We had a professional singer who would know better than me - who sang with Karen’s accompaniment and afterwards raved about Karen’s talent. It included learning music we requested. Second, she approaches the situation with a fantastic attitude. Caring, flexible, service-minded. No prima donna, no hard edges. She adapted to our music preferences. She showed up in the right way - whether accompanying in the ceremony or performing solo during the social period before the ceremony. She made it clear that she was there to make it the experience we wanted. Third, she’s fair and direct. Getting to a suitable arrangement was as easy as one would hope. We presented an unusual format for a wedding and she listened and responded. Whether it was cost, or equipment or set-up, she supported our needs in a clear and friendly way. There are many ways to do music for an event. I doubt there is even a typical situation. We found Karen’s input very constructive and thoughtful. I would engage her again - for any music need with pleasure. Feel free to contact me with any questions. R Ron@Croen.net ”