Led By You by Konstantin Klashtorni – reviewed by Chris Mann


  I think it’s true to say that I raved about the first album, “Downtown”, by Ukrainian-born Konstantin Klashtorni.  Well, if you read my review you can decide for yourself… 

His 2006 release “Led By You” recently arrived and it’s got a different kind of vibe.  I still really like his sound – let me tell you about it… 

From the opening bars of the urban and funky Back It Up, I’m already hooked.  We’re right in smooth jazz radio territory with a bubbly bassline, good dance rhythm and fantastic horn work.  The melody is strong and the groove is even stronger.  Wow!  So Lovely has a calmer vibe – and you do need to get your breath back after that funky opener.  I really like the way Klashtorni uses a doubled-up sax sound on the chorus to this and some other songs.  Many contemporary jazz players and producers use this technique – and nowhere better than here. 

The mood stays mellow and sexy for the next song.  I want Steve Quirk on UK’s Smooth FM to play this song all summer!  It Dews has the catchiest sax chorus you’ll hear this year.  It’s got a hypnotic mid-tempo groove – it’s got everything.  Haven’t Got the Heart has a lot to offer too – the soprano sax floats over a slow hip-hop drum pattern and Mitchell Bruning’s lead vocal is just a little offbeat but perfect for yet another hook-laden original song.  Have this guy sing on the next Zero 7 album – that might see them return to form… 

The instrumental title track bounces and keeps on bouncing.  The keys on this track, like several here, are subtle and sweet but always in the groove.  This should be on any NAC jock’s playlist this summer – it’s flawless.  Close is a very cool number with the minimum of real ‘blowing’ but the loveliest string synth sound.  The backing vocals will please too on this feelgood number. 

Fans of the Hammond B3 sound will like the intro to On the Way – it’s as though you can just feel that Leslie cabinet just beginning to wind down.  Nice.  The alto really sounds nice on this strutting mid-tempo song.  The chorus once more is highly infectious.  Michael Simon’s trumpet sounds great on here – and Klashtorni’s sax actually sounds even better with other horns than it does with ‘layers’ of itself.  That double-tracked (or maybe more than double-tracked) sax adds much of the joy to the breezy, uplifting Ocean Of Joy.  The backing vocals add a really nice touch to this song that, if there were any justice, would appear on the soundtrack to a romantic comedy in the near future. 

I’m drawn to the deeper urban ‘quiet storm’ groove of the gorgeous Look Around, which has some of the loveliest chord changes I’ve ever heard in its chorus section.  The soprano sax reminds me of Marion Meadows’ sound – in other words, it’s perfection.  Michael Simon’s muted trumpet is all the solo that’s needed on a song this strong – in my book this is the standout track.  It’s appropriate that the final song should be titled Stay Romantic, because it sums up the feeling of the whole album.  The alto is strongly up front on this bouncy number, which has some of the least mechanical drum programming that I’ve heard in a long time. 

Radio DJ’s listen up – get behind this CD in summer 2006!!  Konstantin Klashtorni may be a new name to you but he has written and produced all ten songs here.  When he’s not been adding drum tracks, guitar and very appealing keyboard sounds, he’s been delivering a sax sound that, as far as the smooth jazz market is concerned, is right on the money.  Don’t wait for the next CD – get hold of this and while you’re on KVK Music’s website get “Downtown” too, so you can hear what I was raving about last time. 





KVK Music – KVK 061   Producer – Konstantin Klashtorni