|In the past I have frequently
reviewed albums of the American Smooth Jazz market, which is obviously
dominating this genre. But one should not forget the European Smooth
Jazz artists. In the next months I will tell you more about these
artists, especially about those with connections to USA. Most of you
will know, that JazzFM in London is the birth-cell of the
European Smooth Jazz. Without this radiostation Smooth Jazz in Europe
would still have a shadow-existence.
European labels have taken great part to this positive development. My thanks concerns to these entrepreneurs who take the risks to investigate in a rather unknown genre. Well, it must be a passion to spend a lot of money for music which will never be designed for the big business. One of these labels is Passion Music. This is their own description of the label:
"Passion Music LTD is a company
founded in 1983 by partners Les McCutcheon and Nigel
Wright. In the beginning, both Les and Nigel
had already enjoyed success with the group Shakatak.
Among other incredible fine music
artists Passion Music presents the group The Jazzsteppers. The
Jazz Steppers are Klay Dumas-Copas, Pat
Leacock, Dean Mark and Tony Smith,
all of whom have worked as top class session musicians in addition to
their work together. Front man and keyboard player Klay
has worked with Diana Brown, Jocelyn Brown and Ray
Gaskins. Drummer and percussionist Pat Leacock has
played with Down To The Bone, Joey Negro and Peter
Andre. Bass player Dean Mark has played with Jamiroquai,
Roy Ayers, Philip Bent, Noel McCoy and Vivian McKone while
Tony Smith has played guitar with Ray Gaskins,
Jocelyn Brown and Nelson Rangel. Klay Dumas-Copas has left the
group. He isn't to find in the liner notes of the second album. Newcomer
is Ashley Kingsley on keyboards.
Full Circle is the following uptempo tune with a strong rhythm feeling dominated by Pat Leacock's bass drum and modified rim shots. The melody line is anew presented by Tony Smith's outstanding guitar solo. Strings and vibes are rounding up the sound.
Take It Slow is the next title and indeed a slow tempo guitar solo with melodic keyboards vibes. A short interlude as a preparation for the next tune.
Wahwah guitar sound and vibe on a
hip-hop rhythm are the incredients of L.A. drive.
Octaves Apart rise the tempo to a funky tune with some vocal additions.
The typical mixture of vibes and guitar solo shapes also To The Bone.
Nafisa is a short interlude played in by Dean Mark on different keyboards.
Tony Smith's acoustic guitar is to hear on Insides Your Eyes, a romantic slow tune. The group likes to add to most of their tunes vocal accomplishments.
End OF Story is the next interlude, this time played in by Ashley Kingsley on keyboards and organs. Lisa Silgardi adds strange sound modified words.
Bella Lisa is the next atmospheric follow-up. Keyboard-vibes, percussions and vocals are weavering to a dreamy soundscape. Interrupted by an uptempo guitar-solo and sing-song.
Give Me The Night is a cover version of George Benson's great hit on the same titled album which was released in 1980 on the Warner Bros. label. The Jazzsteppers realize a new very interessant modification on the height of this time.
Reflections is an uptempo tune in the garment of the Philly sound.
Finishing tune is the title song The Next Step. On this tune all members show anew their qualities and the melody is hooking.
This album is a must-buy for all friends of Contemporary Jazz in his melodic variation. If you don't know how to buy the album, here the webaddresses:
http://www.passion-music.com (their label) or
http://www.musiclinks.com/expansion/shop.shtml (affilated label).
www.jazzsteppers.cwc.net (under construction)