Stop the Feeling by Aaron Aranita – reviewed by Chris Mann
have been privileged to review two CD’s by Hawaiian
multi-instrumentalist Aaron Aranita on this site.
This latest release contains tracks from the “Eastbound”
CD, together with sessions recorded in 1989 and 2004/5, and is a
musical resumé for this talented guy.
The pretty latin
dancer Jazzamba is a fresh opener featuring some lovely
clarinet work. In some
parts the timing is not rock-solid but that just seems to reinforce
the “live” feel which adds to its charm.
I feel like I’m hearing two trumpets here – and they’re
both fantastic. A flute
plays and I’m captured. Dance,
dance, dance! Kekaha
is a funky instrumental which again has a nice, loose “live” feel.
I especially like Anthony King’s drumming on here and also
Bill Valaire’s jazz-rock guitar solo which in a way shouldn’t work
but which fits perfectly.
The same very
natural feel is there on You are a Dream. This beautiful ballad is from one of the later sessions and
the dreamy sax is augmented by superb piano and very well chosen
string samples. I found
the drum sound on Never Say Never and the multi-tracked sax a
little tiring. Yes, the
carnival atmosphere is captured but there is so much going on I find
it hard to get involved.
Aranita brings the
clarinet, sax and flute alternately to the fore on the lilting and
lovely Where the Wind Blows.
This has a romantic and old-fashioned feeling and I can imagine
this on a movie soundtrack (oh, here he goes again about movies…).
I’m not convinced that the sound balance is completely right
here - maybe if the percussion were lower in the mix and the rhythm
guitar more forward the whole thing would hang together just a little
better. The sax on Deception sounds a little too live if that’s possible.
It’s not an easy sound to get to grips with, but the
vibraphone sound is great. Once
we get to the Caldera-style jazz-rock breakdown I’m hooked!
It’s an intense song.
For my comments on
the funky Is it You, see my review of “Eastbound”.
Listening again, the
bright synths and drum programming could only have come from the
1980’s. The song avoids sounding harsh though and I love the chord progressions. Ulterior
Motives is a very energetic jazz-rock workout from 1989 and I
could draw parallels with Caldera and other very technical bands such
as Casiopea and Mezzoforte. Sax
and piano are blazing on this crisp, busy instrumental.
Victor Gonzalez on bass and Anthony King on drums forge a
rhythm section that leaves you breathless!
For my comments on
the songs Far Eastern Standard Time, Sugartown and Eastbound,
please refer to my “Eastbound”
I love the bluesy
and atmospheric Ellingtonian.
It’s a very melodic tune featuring just alto sax, piano and
bass, and the tempo is very slow.
The acoustic is huge – this really is a beautiful recording.
This is one of the newer tracks, recorded during 2004/5, and it
is a great example of Aranita’s development as a composer, artist and
producer. Party for Alto is an offbeat, funky latin tune which
takes a couple of spins to get comfortable with.
Despite the busy rhythm, that clean-as-a-whistle sax is the
star. This will make you
long for summer…
To close this
varied set, the bright and upbeat Don’t Stop the Feeling is a
nice choice. I wish a
real guitar had been used in the intro but once the song gets rolling,
the solid bass and a very snappy snare drum keep things moving while
sax and keys swap solos. The
horn works better than the keys for me – I’ve realised that I’ve
become a fan of Mr Aranita’s superb, clean tone.
As a chronicle, a
“where am I up to now?”, this set is very successful. It’s interesting in that it shows how the contemporary jazz
idiom has changed in just less than 20 years but, more importantly, it
shows how this multi-talented Hawaiian jazzman has progressed in every
Once again, I find
myself apologising publicly to Aaron for the time I have taken to
write this review. I’ve
read that more new music is on its way and I’ll be very excited to
Records – SR2002 Producer –
Aaron Aranita, Executive Producer – Michael Chock