bless America, God bless Pieces of a Dream. Really, did they already
release 17 albums? Time flies and seldom is a group so productive like
POAD. I remember, when I bought their first album Pieces Of A Dream
in 1981. Followed by We Are One (1982), Imagine This
(1983), Joyride (1986), Makes You Wanna (1988), their
Disco-styled album Bout Dat Time (1989), In Flight
(1993), Goodbye Manhattan (1995), The Best Of Pieces of a
Dream (1996), Pieces (1997), Ahead to the Past (1999),
Acquainted With The Night (2001), Sensual Embrace (2001),
Love's Silhouette (2002), No Assembly Required (2004),
Pillow Talk (2006) and now Soul Intent (2009) - a huge
Time for keyboardist
James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harmon, the founding duo and driving
force behind the enduring contemporary jazz collective, to remember
the past and a look back. “One of my main goals was to go back to the
original approach to making a Pieces record,” says Lloyd. “The idea
was to bring everyone into the studio at the same time so we could all
work together in real time. A lot of people really get into that
vintage sound from our first three albums, that period from ‘81 to
‘83. I figured if we went back to those old-style methods of recording
and writing, then that element of vintage Pieces might show up in the
music itself. It was an opportunity to bounce ideas off each other in
a way that we could never have done had we recorded it separately.
Five heads are definitely better than one.”
Beside James and
Curtis was the studio filled with Tony Watson, Jr. (saxophone), Martin
Walters (programming), Randy Bowland (guitar), Bennie Sims (keyboards,
programming, bass), Eddie Baccus, Jr. (saxophone), Rohn Lawrence
(guitar), David Dyson (bass), Joe Cunningham (saxophone). I assume the
musicians had several sessions to avoid an overcrowded studio.
The first tune
Sway sounds familiar. On a relaxed sax background James Lloyd
develops his elegant piano style. The combination of sax and piano is
obviously the Pieces' trademark, shown in Vision Accomplished.
While Tony Watson delivers the sweet melody James deliciously
improvised on his keys.
Another element one
often can recognize is the stomping beat in the way of Give U My
Heart. James masterly kicks the key and there is magic in the air.
written and produced by Curtis, Bennie Sims and Holmer Lewis. From the
starting point, let's call it a repetitive sequence, the competent
musicians contribute own improvisations and themes. Hindsight
evokes silky impressions of a gloomy night in a cocktail bar, holding
your beloved woman in your arm and listening to your favorite pianist.
Those who love
smooth jazz but wait for a new impact should listen to the sassy
Soul Intent. James Lloyd 's inpouring piano performance flavored
with brilliant sax injections underlayered with an urban beat is
really irresistible. The tricky use of the Japanese Koto gives Step
On It a fresh propulsive direction excellently transferred to James'
The crispy Things
Are Looking Up offers some funk elements for your joy and
pleasure. When did I hear a drum solo by Curtis Harmon last time?
James Llyod comments
D Fuse The Situation: “I can’t really think of myself as being
in the same league as Herbie,” says Lloyd, “but when I listen to that
song, I feel like there are some moments where his inspiration is
coming through. It’s a very old-school track, where we just let loose
and play.” A tune with a lot more space for improvisation than melody
structure. Unusual for POAD but certainly an enrichment.
Stand Up is featuring sax player Joe Cunningham and guitarist
Rohn Lawrence who shine in solos. Curtis Harmon (pleased): “It
turned out a lot better on the album than I originally thought it
would. At first, I wasn’t getting the vibe and the energy that I was
looking for. But when I added some guitar and percussion, as well as
the saxophone parts, the song started to breathe and really come to
The closing ballade
Anywhere You Are has such a strong and awesome melody. This song
is worth a vocal interpretation. The soul intent is fulfilled, just
and exactly here.
Thanks God. Pieces
of a Dream are back and they haven't lost their glamour.
Artist: Pieces Of A Dream
Genre: Smooth Jazz
Label: Heads Up International
01 Sway [4:12]
02 Vision Accomplished [4:20]
03 Give U My Heart [4:39]
04 APB [4:26]
05 Hindsight [6:34]
06 Soul Intent [4:22]
07 Step On It [4:30]
08 Things Are Looking Up [6:16]
09 D Fuse The Situation [6:24]
10 Stand Up [4:22]
11 Anywhere You Are [4:56]