October 29th 2002
Energy by Steve Oliver on Native Language.
is the second solo CD released by guitarist/vocalist/composer Steve
Oliver. It’s easy to see
why Steve Reid enlisted his talents – his sound is uplifting and
the first bars of the opener High Noon, you’re already in
holiday mood – a mood that the funky title track keeps going.
It’s a party! The
latin carnival that is Festevo will have you dancing – just
marvel at the flair of this guy on acoustic guitar.
He is awesome.
Come On Home and Mr Hipster have a more urban groove but
the feeling is still very ‘up’.
The dancer Show You Love should be a single – tough
groove, strong vocal and the smiles and foot tapping come free!
Ocean Blue, Day’s End and Horizon are fine
examples of Oliver in elegant mode.
His guitar and vocals intertwine effortlessly.
winter weather descends on many of us, this CD will bring back memories
of sunny days.
…Jeff Kashiwa’s Simple Truth.
long-time collaborator of Steve Reid and labelmate of Steve Oliver,
saxman Jeff Kashiwa released his fourth solo album in August this year.
album’s first single 3-Day Weekend is very nearly as catchy as Hyde
Park from his last CD and it sets the tone nicely.
Bright, brassy and bubbly. Other
uptempo tracks include Voices, Good Life and Something
About You with its old-skool feel.
The beat is unadorned and Kashiwa’s melody line is strong and
easy to follow.
is nicely chuggy with a tight bass sound and a smooth tenor sax.
Kashiwa can get mellow too – the romantic Mediterranean
Nights features a beautiful acoustic guitar and A Quiet Goodbye
has lovely piano and cymbal work to complement that smoky tenor horn.
The title track is equally elegant and the soprano sax is crisp
is a very rounded, confident album by a very experienced player and
composer. This year has
seen some fine, funky releases though and “Simple Truth” for me
plays things just that bit too safe.
astonishing Groove Suite by Sunnie Paxson….
light touch on electric piano on the opener Save It For Me
immediately made me think of Patrice Rushen – and you know how I love
funkateers will lap up the covers of Brass Construction’s Changin’
and B.T. Express’s Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied). The latter features a typically “out there” solo by bass
ace Stanley Clarke. Larry
Carlton’s lead guitar cuts through on the stomping The Stroll.
the beat goes on… The
title track, driven by ex-Chick Corea bassman Jimmy Earl, is a slick
jazz dancer. If clubs were still hip enough to play music this good, this
would be a classic five years down the line.
Oh yes – Love’s Always has a groove that’s cotton
candy, a rollercoaster, the best car you ever drove.
crystal-clear acoustic piano is centre-stage for the funky Spirit’s
in the House. The muted
trumpet simmers and the groove’ll get ya!
The album’s most mellow song Sofie’s Blues is
exquisite and soulful.
fans - trust me – buy this for your party!
…a blast from the past, Jazz Funk by Incognito.
I can’t believe that this album is 21 years old!
I’m very glad that Ensign decided to release it on CD once
Incognito had launched into the second phase of an enviable career.
the opening bars of the jazz dancer Shine On it’s not hard to
see how the band got to where they are now, despite a gap of about 10
years between this album and “Inside Life”.
album is biased towards instrumentals – my favourites are the funky Sunburn
and the frantic Interference.
The vocals Chase The Clouds Away and The Smile of a
Child are mellow and dreamy – though the vocal performances of the
magnificent Maysa Leak on later albums overshadow these.
points to serious jazz credentials within this band – it’s moody and
intense and the light touch on drums and bass cannot fail to impress.
CD package includes the evergreen Parisienne Girl and the sublime
Summer’s Ended. These
were originally released (in the UK at least) as a double A-side single.
Check the flute playing on this last song.
“Bluey” Maunick created something very special with “Jazz Funk”.
It’s identifiably British and it stands head and shoulders
above just about everything that came out of Britain or the USA that
– like they say – never goes out of fashion.