Transoceanic by Audio Caviar Ė reviewed by Chris Mann
Ralph Johnson, an original member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and
keyboardist/bassist/flugelhorn player Morris Pleasure comprise Audio
Caviar along with Danish guitarist Steen Kyed. The band was initially
conceived as a traditional jazz trio in a Copenhagen recording studio,
but the project changed focus and expanded to embrace the talents of a
veritable whoís-who in the worlds of soul, R&B and contemporary jazz.
The term ďsupergroupĒ seems to have fallen out of use in recent years,
with the possible exception of Fourplay. Itís kind of interesting
that Marcel East, who has enjoyed a long association with that band,
shares songwriting, musician and production credits on this new
supergroupís impressive first recording.
expect given the Earth, Wind & Fire connection, the opener
Transoceanic Prayer (prelude) is atmospheric with sound effects,
including the ocean, voices and windchimes. It leads straight into
the ultra-commercial but still soulful Hookline. If this isnít
a single it should be. The big, phat bassline, mellow keyboards and
that strong hook are making me rewind this a lot!!
mellow vibe follows on into the dreamy Now That Iíve Found You.
Itís a very soulful instrumental with some great keyboard work and
lovely acoustic guitar lead courtesy of Steen Kyed. This ebbs and
flows like good film music and creates a lovely atmosphere. The piano
and guitar wind effortlessly round each other on the utterly gorgeous
Jodie too. I canít put my finger on it but thereís something
pleasingly old-fashioned about this song.
ready for the Latin bounce of 5th House, where Kyedís guitar
flows along with a great vibes sound, though I think itís really a
keyboard. The keyboards on this CD really are outstanding. This tune
has its darker moments and I love the whole thing, including the way
it fades into the interlude Serengeti Sunset. Eventually
Live (a drum thing) is both a shout out to Duke Ellington and a
way to ease into a stripped-down version of Miles Davisís All Blues.
The tenor sax solo is a juicy one.
has a particularly disjointed drum pattern but the main theme sticks
in your head. The Eastern theme is suggested rather than being too
obvious and the Moog solo here takes this deep into Fusion territory.
Itís one of the more challenging numbers on the albumÖ Jonathan
Butlerís vocals on Legends of Ratava lend it an African feel
and the midpoint of the album finds the band firmly establishing its
ethnic/world music trademark sound.
Kyedís mournful guitar on Sofieís Theme (interlude) leads into
the dreamy The Island. This slow Latin number, written by Ivan
Lins and Vitor Martins, features a piano solo by George Duke and
vocals by Dori Caymmi. Do I need to tell you more? The horn lines,
alternately muted and open, are haunting. This is my favourite track
on the album, and lucky for me at over six minutes itís the longest.
The pretty Welcome, sounding like an old Dave Grusin tune I
canít quite place, features Gary Biasís sweet soprano sax and two of
Steen Kyedís TAO band members.
Earth, Wind & Fire connection is complete on the ballad Dominique.
This has been released as a single and features the distinctive
falsetto of Philip Bailey, the guitar of Al McKay and the dependable
bass of Verdine White. Feel the years roll back on this one! Thereís
also a big, spine-tingling soul feel on Love Comes in Time.
How could there not be with Howard Hewett on lead and background
vocals, Philip Bailey and the EWF Horns. If youíre not raiding your
music collection for old Earth, Wind & Fire albums once youíve heard
this Iíll be amazed. Me? I just ordered ďRaise!Ē on CD.
contemplative Closing Prayer features the solo piano of the
classically-trained Morris Pleasure and this is a timeless piece of
music. It strays into gospel as the title would lead you to expect
but the Chick Corea-style flurry of notes in minor chords is
surprising. The whispered vocals, wisps of acoustic guitar and ocean
sound effects which accompany the fade mean this song will stay with
you. The album ends with a bonus vocal mix of Hookline. The
lead vocal is delivered by Daniel, one of the songís co-writers and
though his name and voice are unfamiliar to me, Iím hoping to hear
fact, thatís how I feel about the whole Audio Caviar thangÖ I love
the way itís taken musicianship and songwriting talent you know and
trust, listened to the urban groove on the street, taken some chances
and made a statement about the healing power of music in this early
part of the 21st century. I believe that material is
already being prepared for a second album Ė I
Allliance Records THM-002 Producers Ė Marcel East, Ralph Johnson,