Smoothing by Konstantin – reviewed by Chris Mann



Well I guess you can say you’ve made it when you’re known by just your first name.  Madonna and Cher would probably agree.

Konstantin Klashtorni has made his mark on the contemporary jazz scene with three strong releases and I’m glad to have number four in my CD player right now. 

The opener ‘Stylish Walk’ has a little swagger to it and is a fine example of Konstantin’s no-nonsense approach.  From the first four bars you know you’ll get a confident performance and a gorgeous alto sound.  Adir Kochavi’s lovely trumpet and flugelhorn come as a pleasant surprise.  And this worked very well for a certain Mr. James and Mr. Braun.  The title track doesn’t draw me in the same way.  This sounds weird but it’s like the song has been slowed down, it’s that relaxed. 

Hello, now ‘Autumn’s Edge’ is outrageously catchy as we know Konstantin’s music can be and it has a bounce in its step.  Marion Meadows fans will simply lap up this soprano delight.  Dancing percussion and a light touch on keyboards provide exactly what’s needed.  The more romantic ‘Walking Away’ starts out sounding like a slowed-down version of the previous song.  It develops, yes, but that intro – well, you listen and tell me.  Konstantin plays flute on here but it doubles the sax and I’d like to hear it soar on its own.  Listen to some old Ronnie Laws – it’s a great example to follow. 

The pretty acoustic guitar on the intro to the mid-paced ‘Chica Timida’ hints at just how strong the whole song will be.  Konstantin really is the master of very strong hooks and the chorus has one of his best.  I’m just rediscovering the joys of cycling so ‘Spinning Along’ says something to me.  A hint of funk, an easy flowing bassline, a guitar jangling off to one side and a simple sax melody saying ‘follow me’.  If this had live drums and bass and they decided to let loose a little, I’d be smiling from ear to ear. 

If you like a more deliberate beat ‘Silky Way’ should deliver.  It’s quite dreamy, and the female backing vocals and ethereal keyboard sounds reinforce this.  The male and female backing vocals on the sexy ‘Words of Love’ work well.  I feel that Konstantin writes melodies strong enough to have lead vocal alternating with the sax.  The chord changes are so lovely that a lyric and a strong male lead vocal could turn this into a real tearjerker.  Also, let Yerman Aponte step forward on bass – because you know he wants to. 

If you’re driving on a sunny day and you hear ‘Fresh Feeling’ on the radio – and one day soon I hope you do – this bouncy song will gladden your heart.  If it had a more committed groove (do I mean live drums – yes I do) you’d have to dance to it.  The mood on ‘Drive Me Home’ is similarly uplifting.  It comes complete with car sound effects and an acoustic rhythm guitar I’m a sucker for both.  And Yerman steps forward on bass – this gets better.  If you’re not already relaxing with a glass of wine, grab one before ‘Let’s Chill’ starts.  A dreamy keyboard and acoustic guitar invite you for the last dance at the end of a very classy party.  The synth strings sound so good I’m kind of surprised that Konstantin kept them for the last song.  The pretty acoustic guitar solo is uncredited but there’s a hint of Steve Oliver about it.  And that‘s good. 

Konstantin’s first release for NuGroove Records will not shock you or present a challenge if you are familiar with his music.  Konstantin can write, he can produce and he can really play.  I want more though.  He knows how to make the horns sound great so let’s hear horns with live drums and bass just kickin’ it!  The taste for funk is strong at the moment and I’d really like to review the next Konstantin CD after playing it loud in the car and dancing to at least two songs before I write a word.  We’ve been smoothin’ – now let’s get groovin’.



NuGroove Records KVK0801   Producer – Konstantin Klashtorni