Album Review of
Divergent Path

Written by Robert Silverstein
August 29, 2021 - 3:42pm EDT
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For years based in the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California, and now currently living in Connecticut, key­­boardist / composer Doug McKeehan is a well-regarded name among fans of American instrumental jazz-fusion music. Best known as the keyboardist and composer of the group Air Craft, Doug is also a member of the World Beat / Fusion group Ancient Future.

Air Craft was founded by Doug and violinist T. Bruce Bowers in the mid 1980’s. Together they worked magic with their unique array of instrumental jazz, classical and rock music and released their debut album So Near, So Far in 1986 on Catero Records. Sadly the album, released on vinyl, was orphaned and overlooked when the distributer handling Catero’s catalog declared bankruptcy and ceased distribution. The album was released for the first time on CD in 2015 at which point Doug and Bruce reunited after many years to plan a new album. Soon after beginning recording Bruce became seriously ill, with chemo treatments making it impossible for him to play and finish the project. Doug was able to enlist, with Bruce’s blessing, two other violinists, Mads Tolling and Matt Szemela, to finish the album. Divergent Path was finally completed and released in the summer of 2021.

In the wake of Bruce’s passing, Doug McKeehan has renewed the Air Craft sound and vision in a bright musical spotlight. McKeehan’s keyboard work truly shines on the 10-track Divergent Path album and the tracks Bruce was able to complete before he died in 2020 are uniformly excellent. Keys and violin are backed by a wide range of musicians, including Jack Dorsey (drums) and Myron Dove (electric bass) with Matt Eakle’s flute featured on a couple tracks. Although jazz fusion fans will love this album, the sound of Divergent Path veers into modern jazz-pop thanks to the appearance of a female vocalists Kate Lamont and Riffat Sultana, singing beautifully on three of the tracks. “Hummingbird” and especially “Walls Fall” sound like a modern day version of Gayle Moran, the singer that the late great Chick Corea featured on his 1976 album Music Magic. The sound of the vocal cuts are also somewhat similar, in a more modern context, to the sound of the California based Blue Shift on their most recent 2015 album Levels Of Undo.

Clearly, Air Craft deserves to be heard and listened to on this long awaited second album, Divergent Path. The 10-track, 54 minute album closes with the title track “Divergent Path”, a song that was actually written by Doug and Bruce back in 1987 and that is reflective of the original Air Craft vision. With its blend of reflective New Age, neo-romantic music and easy-on-the-ears instrumentals and vocal-based fusion tracks, Divergent Path presents a most welcome return of Air Craft.