From Fuse Reviews
Guitarist Sean Driscoll's Islands is an organic group effort featuring Bill Vint on saxes, Carlos Sanoja on bass, Patrik Andren on keys, Antonio Sanchez on drums and Doug Hinrichs on percussion. The group goes for a big sound reminiscent of the Pat Metheny Group with the addition of the strong sax playing of Vint. Driscoll's writing and soloing are both equally featured and well-developed here. A group to watch in the future.
Check them out at: http://www.seandriscollgroup.com
From The Hughes Reviews
The Sean Driscoll Group's Islands demonstrates what good, honest contemporary jazz should be. There are no light, breezy creme puffs or ventures into far-out left field here. The varied tunes on this self-released CD are accessible and listenable, yet challenging and intricate. Guitarist Sean Driscoll wrote all the tunes and is the namesake of the group, but this is definitely a group scene as opposed to leader and sidemen. The group seamlessly navigates shifting time signatures and provides telepathic accompaniment behind creative soloing. The six-piece band features a conventional instrumentation of sax, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, and percussion. Visit
CD Baby for ordering information.
The Jazz Review
PICK OF THE WEEK!
* CD Title: Islands
* Year: 1998
* Artist's Website: Sean Driscoll Group
* Musicians: Sean Driscoll (guitars), Bill Vint (saxophones), Patrik Andren (piano, keys), Carlos Sanoja (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums), Doug Hinrichs (percussion)
* Favorite Songs: Bright Spot
This is Sean's second release, and already he is showing how not only his guitar skills, but his writing skills have developed over the past couple of years. Backed by an excellent group, Sean displays his relaxed yet musical style of playing. The entire CD features track after track of beautiful tunes that carry the listener to another dimension. Beauty, lyrical, and cohesiveness are three words which describe this music. The opening selection, Half Circle, Half Square features some nice piano work from Patrik Andren. I guess you could say the Lyle Mays of the group, in terms of exploring new territory and careful structure of the solo work. Sean's guitar is lean, and flowing throughout. In fact all of the selections are originals of Sean. Sax player, Bill Vint is featured throughout No One To Tell. Driving the tune over bar after bar of finely honed chops that serve not only the selection, but the band well. Integrating his spirited style of playing into this arrangement. Watch You Fly reminds me a bit of John Abercrombie. Dark, mysterious, with a hypnotic feel to the composition. Sean who currently makes Boston his home, marches to the beat of his own drummer. This is refreshing when you consider how difficult it is these days to maintain some semblance or originality. Sean has a great future ahead of him.
Reviewed by: Randy McElligott
All About Jazz
Sean Driscoll Group - Islands
One of 12 bands to win Musician Magazine's "Best Unsigned Band Contest" in 1997, the Sean Driscoll Group is a jazz-fusion outfit fronted by guitarist-composer Sean Driscoll, yet another attendee of the Berklee School of Music in Boston. His group consists of six young musicians from four countries -- the U.S., Mexico, Sweden and Venezuela -- who met as college students in Boston and have since relocated to New York. Driscoll and company joined forces in 1994, and Islands is their second self-produced release.
The verdict? This is simply the best independent jazz release I've heard since I began this site in March of '97, and it's one of the better fusion efforts I've heard in 1998, independent or otherwise.
The Sean Driscoll Group has been compared to the Pat Metheny Group and Weather Report, and while such comparisons are justified, Driscoll and company have forged a sound all their own. A few crotchety critics have argued that the Pat Metheny Group should be labeled a world music or new age group -- anything but a jazz band. This same argument cannot be made about Driscoll and company. This outfit is first and foremost an improvisational combo (read that "jazz band"), though they play some electric instruments and derive some elements from Brazilian popular music. Islands features plenty of guitar-sax interplay, tasteful piano interludes, keyboard atmospherics, intricate melodies, and complex Brazilian rhythms.
The synergy here is remarkable for such a youthful bunch. Driscoll and saxophonist Bill Vint are most prominently featured, but the other players are given plenty of room to stretch. The opening track "Half Circle, Half Square," features a Metheny-like bridge and an extended solo from Driscoll, who's a very fluid player. Other strong tracks include "Archipelago," a pretty mood piece that spotlights keyboardist Patrik Andren. "Where We're From" is a mellow piece driven by Vint's cool saxophone. With its sinuous melody, reggae-like rhythms, and tasteful synth, "No One To Tell" is my favorite track. "Watch You Fly" and "If You Ask" are airy ballads, while "Bright Spot" and "3 Faces" wed dulcet melodies to complex syncopations. "North" showcases the talents of bassist Carlos Sanoja, drummer Antonio Sanchez and percussionist Doug Hinrichs.
Islands is a relatively mellow but captivating fusion release from a youthful group with a very bright future. Driscoll is a skilled jazz composer and an egalitarian band leader. His group has already achieved a level of musicianship most bands can only dream about. Here's hoping a major label signs these guys.
Review: Ed Kopp
All About Jazz
The Sean Driscoll Group plays contemporary jazz with a myriad of sounds that are familiar to us all: the snappy electric bass in the background, the melodic saxophone that weaves its tale up front, the evenly-keeled piano, the natural timbre of congas, the coloring pulse of the drummer, the keyboard that can sound like different instruments, and the likeable guitar that carries the brunt of the responsibility. Guitarist Sean Driscoll contributed all the compositions and leads with a creative force that never dominates, but instead brings the disparate voices together to interact and support.
The band includes saxophonist Bill Vint, pianist Patrik Andren, bassist Carlos Sanoja, drummer Antonio Sanchez, and percussionist Doug Hinrichs. Lead voices Vint and Driscoll offer pleasant melodies with some improvisation. On "If You Ask," the duo performs unaccompanied, gently rolling out a fresh expressive ballad. "Where We're From" is Vint's up-tempo tenor saxophone feature, while the syncopated and driving "North" features Sanoja's electric bass in the spotlight. Pianist Andren has several solo spots; his work on "Bright Spot" and "3 Faces" is filled with enthusiasm, and his keyboard work on "Archipelago" provides appropriate small-town, remote-area, folk music scenery.
Driscoll's guitar work is contemporary and jazz-fusion oriented, but never loud or aggressive. His melodic approach combines appealing phrasing with improvised fills and spurts. There's a brief, untitled, unlisted bonus track at the end. It's a group improvisation that allows each member of the group to say "so long" in his own way.
Review: Jim Santella
I hear it all the time from my contemporaries: "They're no young musicians out there playing any real jazz anymore." The problem is, playing jazz music in America is not the best way to getting noticed, unless you're willing to conform to the demands of the Record Labels, cool jazz stations or managers looking to make a fast buck or two. Believe me, there are a lot of good musicians out there struggling to be recognized. Musicians that have an original sound with good solid charts, learning, stretching and developing a rich sound without bending to the commercial whims of the aforementioned groups to sacrifice their art.
One such group is the Sean Driscoll group. In their latest CD venture, Islands, they bring together an interesting international group of players coming from as far away as Venezuela and Sweden. It's a wonderful thing to hear and see cultures overlapping one another. Today in jazz, this has been the melting pot for new inventions of originality and sound. The Sean Driscoll group, winner of Musician Magazine's "Best Unsigned Band Contest," beating out over 3000 bands, has recorded some fine and diversified material with this release of "Islands." All the compositions are originals and come from the pen of Sean Driscoll.
The opening track, Half Circle, Half Square for some reason has me thinking of the Brazilian composer Hermato. The way the line is written is very much in the same mode as his. There's a nice opening line with a good piano solo by Patrik Andren. From there, the piece builds with some controlled intensity. Sean Driscoll takes the next solo on guitar. He plays with a nice economy of notes with a good sound behind a steady rhythm accompaniment.
Archipelago has a mysterious quality as you wait for the release to happen. There's some good musical tension with a wonderful entry by Patrik Andren on piano. The percussion is subtle and not over killing. The soprano sax of Bill Vint follows as he builds on the layers of the rhythm section with a heartfelt solo. Sean Driscoll takes it out with a nice solo as he continues playing more layers over the rhythm section.
No One to Tell starts out with a sort of blues feeling out of left field a la Weather Report, but less exotic. I love Sean Driscoll's economy of notes. I get a horn feeling not unlike Miles Davis in his playing. It was Dizzy who once said,"it's not all in how many notes you play, It's what you choose to leave out that counts." Bill Vint takes it out building on the waves of a crescendo that fades out into the distance. This music is jazz fusion, without the con-fusion.
On Watch You Fly , Bill Vint establishes a nice groovy mood and Sean follows with a solo so delicate to the touch it's like he's stepping on eggs. The rhythm adds to the lifting feeling and Bill Vint's tenor solo comes off without having to overstate.
Where We're From , for me, is my least favorite track on the CD. There's not much in the composition to bite into and the rhythm comes off sounding a bit stiff. Ironically, it all ends in a rush as if it had no where else to go.
Bright Spot has a nice release that flows into a wonderful piano solo by Patrik Andren, smooth and straight ahead. Sean picks it up and plays it pretty and again sparing us a barrage of notes. Sean's sound is reminiscent of George Benson's with a sprinkle of John McLaughlin and overtones with respect to Wes Montgomery.
If You Ask opens with a lovely yet haunting tenor intro by Bill Vint. There's a strong feeling of - excuse the expression - New Age. There's also a lot of tonal expression in this composition. For me, it conjures up feelings of the Desert Southwest. While listening to this, my mind's eye was busy scanning the monolithic rocks somewhere off in Sedona Arizona.
3 Faces is a nice line penned by Sean Driscoll - as are all the compositions on this CD. Here he glides smoothly with a happy Brazilian rhythm that leads into a lilting tenor solo by Bill Vint with the undercurrents of the rhythm undulating slowly and kicking it up notches. Sean picks it up and complements Bill's solo as the piece rises and dips with that wonderful Brazilian rhythm cooking all the way through.
North is the most academic piece on the set. This is a musician's piece and it further displays this wonderful groups ability to diversify its musical presentation. Sean's solo has a nice twinge to it backed by some steady conga drumming by percussionist, Doug Hinrichs.
The final and brief cut following North has a bit of avant garde flavor. Perhaps this is the groups theme song. If this organization stays together and has some luck thrown its way, we could all be hearing a lot more from them in the near future. The music is easy, the musicianship first rate; these are players that could be sideman, and have, with any of the more familiar jazz groups on the scene today. But wouldn't it be nice if they could go a bit longer to continue to express their music in their own inimitable way?
The Music Paper
This is a really good first outing of Brazilian influenced jazz/fusion from a multi-national band that won Musician Magazine's 1996 Best Unsigned Band contest. Driscoll is the guitarist of the sextet, which also features a sax player. Just curious, but how does a jazz group allow "saxophone" to be misspelled on the back cover of its CD?
Review: Jon Maye, Manhasset, NY
Jazz Fan Attic
Sean is a young guitarist from the Boston area. On this, a mini CD, Sean displays some of his fine chops on numbers like "A Break for Sisyphus". The Metheny influence is there in his playing, but where Sean departs is in his unique way of playing his guitar. This CD contains four compositions. Hopefully Sean will see to it to release a full CD's worth. This talented young guitarist has a promising road ahead. Check it out.
Review: Randy McElligott, Ottawa Canada
Interview from Musician Magazine, March 1997 Issue
"Everybody wants to be a virtuoso", says guitarist Sean Driscoll. "So do I, but it rarely means as much to the guy off the street. A band that plays well together and plays musically, meanwhile, will have an impact a thousand times greater than some guy playing a million notes with just a band behind him."
Sean's belief is evident in the music of the 6-man, jazz-based instrumental group he assembled while a student at Berklee School of Music, in Boston, in order to record a self-released CD of his music. While they've been compared to the Pat Metheny Group, Sean notes a key difference: "We added a saxophone, which was a real break from that sort of sound- more like Weather Report," he explains. "Having a wind instrument in the group completely changes the dynamics and how we have to deal with each other."
The music also shows traces of the progressive rock and jazz/fusion that Sean listened to growing up, albeit with a twist. "The only problem I have with that label is that we're not really related to the jazz/fusion bands of the 70's that that usually calls to mind," laughs Sean. "I like a lot of those bands, but I'd say we're more jazz-evolved. And, most of us in the band listen to a lot of Brazilian and Latin Music.
Despite the lack of outlets for up and coming jazz artists in Boston, the group still manages at least a couple of live gigs a month. "I've never had a band like this," enthuses Sean. "We just clicked. And when that happens, it's gold- you don't find it very often."
And better still, there are no egos. "If something isn't working, we're good enough players that we can address the problem and fix it."
Midwest Music Review
A 4-track CD by a 6 piece band and a young artist who wrote all of the compositions. A little unusual to see guitar with the sax, but pulls it off. A promising future ahead.
High-caliber players create rich lines throughout Driscoll's well-crafted compositions. Textures, dynamics, solo expertise and group interplay are all used to their fullest. Excellent production, package.
I love a fresh view on jazz/fusion and the Sean Driscoll Group has managed to create a tasty version of it for the 90's. The band is very accomplished and lends a carefree yet focused attitude to Sean's compositions that make them soar with bubbling enthusiasm. Three of the four cuts clock in at over 6:00 so there's plenty of uplifting sounds to delight the listener.
Sean has a bright future making great music. Let's hope he continues to follow his dream.
(Sean Driscoll Group was also picked as one of "Doug's Top 5" for June 1996- one of the top five bands reviewed out of 24)
How typical. This is exactly what you can expect to get if you let great musicians jam on great tunes. In other words, this is great. Guitarist/composer Driscoll should go down as one of the greats of jazz-fusion. As a writer, Driscoll sometimes shows a Weather Report influence, but opts for the more organic sounds of straight jazz. This is not a Weather Report rip-off, however. After showing where they've come from, the group takes off on their own, forging their own ground. Driscoll the guitarist is no slouch, either. His phrasing transcends the limitations of his instrument, combining energy with horn-like fluidity. "D's Dance" shows him at his up-tempo best, while a slower cut like "King Denny" lets him stretch out and investigate some melody. I'm happy to say that Driscoll isn't a ball-hog, because the rest of the band makes an impact as well. Drummer Antonio Sanchez, percussionist Doug Hinrichs and bassist Fabian Bausch move from jazz to Latin and beyond, easily. Pianist/keyboardist Patrik Andrén sounds great whether soloing or comping. Saxophonist Bill Vint holds his own both as a soloist, or while mingling his lines with Driscoll's. My only complaint is that the disc is too short. I can't wait for more.