Smoothing by Konstantin – reviewed by Chris Mann
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.
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.
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.
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.
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