look back with nostalgic feelings to the 80's and 90's when Mark
Sakautzky and Michael Weisser released on their label IC/Digit (Independent
Composers/ Innovative Communication) many smooth jazz albums of
artists like Dancing Fantasy, Terry Marshall, George Bishop, Blue
Knights, Teekay, Freeze Frame and others. A real treasury in Germany.
IC tried to create a new kind of music besides New Age and New
Instrumental called "Light Jazz Urban Grooves". Mark
Sakautzky had a proneness for US laid back music which was later
indicated as smooth jazz. His innumerable visits to NY, LA and the
beaches of Malibu and Venice were blueprints for many creative musical
ideas. "Life is a beach - life is music“, was the motto. After
the retreat of Mark Sakautzky and later Michael Weisser IC/Digit stopped
their activities in this genre.
great delight most of the artists are still active. After "A
Balanced World" (1999) Freeze Frame has just released a new album
called "Transition". The man behind Freeze Frame is Ray
Bach. He is supported by Lars Slowak (vocals, bass), Stephan Gade
(guitars), Nils Karsten (horn) and Tom Hapke (drums). Ray
Bach explains the album’s title: ” I have chosen the title
“Transition” because it clearly reflects the progression from the
first album “Moviescores” right through to the present day. You
could divide the album into three parts. The first six tracks are real
songs, some pop-oriented, and some have more jazz elements. The next
four tracks are typical Freeze Frame smooth jazz titles. The last two
tracks bring back the feeling of the early Freeze Frame. It’s like
going back in time. Even if the direction of the material is somewhat
different, ranging from west coast pop to jazz and ambient. But it’s
still Freeze Frame music and that’s why “Transition” is the best
description I have.”
The piano introduction of Life
Is What You Make It reminds
me at Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is". The combination of
piano play and vocals is well-arranged.
Of A Kind is a melodious ballade featuring Lars Slowak's smooth vocals. The instrumental roots
of this song base on Ray Bach's New Age experience.
Want To Say Goodbye has an
impressing guitar feature by Stephan Gade. Ray Bach stakes everything
on the vocal elements. It's rather difficult to sell a pure
instrumental album in Germany. Pop sells.
Comes From The Heart, Only Human
and Pictures Get Blurred
are further ballades in this lyrical style.
heart beats for smooth jazz and heaven gates open with Lincoln
Park. While the American
smooth jazz music is now strongly influenced by Urban music and Hip
Hop rhythm. The independence of European musicians of these influences
is somehow refreshing.
Boulevard adepts some Asian
contributions. Ray Bach offers us a great variations of his electronic
we are a special street in Santa Monica: Ocean
Avenue. As Ocean Avenue
overlooks the ocean, many tourist hotels, restaurants, and expensive
real estate can be found here. OA is often cited in smooth jazz
titles. Ray Bach adds a more moody relaxed version.
Monica Boulevard starts off
of Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. As the densely urban commercial
street reaches L.A. the street-traffic is more intense. Parallel with
that local fact this tune is more
vivid and uptempo.
current gray whale population numbers 21,000. An impressive 94 percent
of that number pass within a mile of the Point Reyes in the first two
weeks of January. Standing on a bluff in the cold, you can see gray
spouts out at sea. Californians make their own seasonal migration to
greet them, and call out their support. Dance
Of The Whales is a homage to
the whales in the style of Eric Serra (" Le Grand Blue") and
also Freeze Frame.
Of The Wave is exactly that
what the title says. Melodious Synthipop outside of the techno scene.
Don't miss the secret piano solo tune at the end of the album
Frame is back. A great see again for the old fans and a big hello to
the smooth jazz scene. This
album is a good reason to discover Ray Bach's previous work. I can
assure it's worth while to take up this quest.