Futtsu City, Chiba, Japan born saxophonist WaKaNa succeeded with her first solo project Saxcess Story (2018). The album was produced by keyboardist Greg Manning, who also performs on six of the eight tracks. Her newest album is A Sunny Day (2022).

WaKaNa invited to the project a great amount of musicians, which are listed in the credits. The album opens with the 2022 version of Dance with Sea Firefly. The uplifting single has already made a good impression on the radio stations last year.

The upbeat mood continues with Just You, a piece penned by Italian saxophonist Rocco Ventrella. Both perfectly interact in this buoyant tune that brightens the day like the sun at the beach of Bari.

The shuffling Ready To Go is a collaboration between WaKaNa and Los Angeles based multi-instrumentalist and producer Matt Godina. Everything in the song has a purpose. Following Matt's advice WaKaNa shows more of her sax skills in improvising and overdub.

It's hard to imagine that the Gap Band's songs have caught on so thoroughly that they are now part of music history. But when you hear a track like Yearning For Your Love, whose chorus is so incisively good that numerous smooth jazz musicians like Kevin Toney, Alex Bugnon, Patrick Yandall or Mariea Antoinette have covered this song, it becomes understandable. WaKaNa provides us a particularly beautiful and soulful interpretation with support from Adrian Crutchfield.

Fika Talk featuring Swedish keyboardist Jonathan Fritzén is a very fresh single release that landed on the turntables of radio stations this week. Fika is the Swedish slang expression for coffee, which people like to have with some delicious pastry. So an overall relaxed musical conversation or talk. A piece of joie de vivre that we don't want to miss.

WaKaNa had, as is well known, worked very intensively with keyboardist and producer Greg Manning on her previous album. On this album, it is limited to two tracks, the track Silk is the first, but it is exceptionally brilliantly done.

On #TokyoSkygram WaKana and her Japanese bandmates prove that Japanese musicians like keyboardist Mari, guitarist Masa Kohama or bassist Kenji "JINO" Hino don't have to hide behind their international music colleagues. Grandios!

Can You Stand the Rain is a ballad by R&B/pop group New Edition written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for the album Heart Attack in 1988. Wakana presents a modern version with rapper Neve.

The title song is inspired by Stevie Wonder's Isn't she lovely?, if you compare bass and rhythm. Anyway, Greg Manning's second collaboration with WaKaNa is a winner. Take It To The Top features Adam Hawley, who was also featured on WaKaNa's first album and here again shows his funky potential.

The final tune Go For The Sound offers the special feature that three saxophonists can be heard at once, besides Wakana Darren Rahn and the Thai Koh Mr. Saxman. It does not get more international than this.

WaKaNa has ensured on her new album A Sunny Day by engaging a wide range of musicians that diverse influences and styles are expressed, which gives her album a very special charm.









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Album Information

Title: A Sunny Day
Artist: WaKaNa
Year: 2022
Genre: Smooth Jazz
Label: Independent


1) Dance with Sea Firefly -2022- (4:31)
2) Just You (3:55)
3) Ready 2 Go (4:39)
4) Yearning for Your Love feat. Adrian Crutchfield (5:12)
5) Fika Talk feat. Jonathan Fritzen (4:15)
6) Silk (4:26)
7) #TokyoSkygram (4:42)
8) Can You Stand The Rain feat. Nieve & SoulChef (3:15)
9) A Sunny Day (4:16)
10) Take it To The Top (4:11)
11) Go For The Sound feat. Darren Rahn & Koh Mr. Saxman (4:25)


Mari (keys, programming),
Frank Selman (guitar),
Mel Brown (bass),
Rocco Ventrella (saxes, keys, programming),
Jay Gore (guitar),
Matt Godina (keys, guitar, programming),
Adrian Crutchfield (vocals, keys, programming),
Christopher V. Turner (vocals, keys, programming),
Carmelo Smith (guitar),
Archie "Scoop" Pearson (bass),
Richard Jenkins (drums),
Jonathan Fritzén (keys, programming),
Alex Crown (guitar),
Greg Manning (keys, programming)
Darrell Crooks (guitar),
Masa Kohama (guitar),
Kenji "JINO" Hino (bass),
Nieve (rap),
Kay-Ta (guitar),
Adam Hawley (guitars, key, programming),
Nathaniel Kearney Jr.  (bass),
Eric Valentine (drums),
Ramon Yslas (percussion),
Darren Rahn (sax, keys, programming),
Allen Hinds (guitar),
Tarrel Martin (drums),

Further review:

Saxess Story