Absolute Zero - Spirit


The heart of Africa is to find in South Africa, if one understands it in a musical especially jazzy sense. Inspired by the collection album Smooth Africa, released by the Heads Up label, I already reviewed albums of Sipho Gumede, Louis Mhlanga, Ernie Smith and Wessel. Another album of Paul Hanmer was edited by Chris Mann. If you want to explore South African jazz, I recommend the labels Sheer Sound and Mountain Records. I know there is a lot more jazz in Africa, but everyone has to start from a scratch. Why not starting from the South?

The band Absolute Zero is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Founded three years ago by Angelo Angelos (piano, vocals) and Mervin Naidoo (bass) Absolute Zero celebrated their debut album in 2000. A true confession to Smooth Jazz. Their music has all incredients of this genre. But you will not hear any drum programmed or studio-synthetic sound. My first impression is that of a live album.

The first track Picasso has a hooking theme, which is often repeated by different instruments like keyboard and sax. The tune is very structurall. Although Stephen Berliner's guitar play is variable and impressive. I like Barry van Zyl's drum breaks.

Some South African rhythm is to recognized in Mervin Naidoo's bass play on Bree Street. Brendan Ross brings smooth alto and soprano sax elements. A cultural mix of Africa and America.

Speaking about a gripping melody, Walking With The Night comes immediately in mind. Angelo Angelos' wonderful interpretation on piano is skillfully accompanied by Brendan Ross heartful sax play. Stephen Berliner's distortion guitar sound prevents us from schmaltzy mellowness.

Absolute Zero's skill in melody writing is audible on Isithupha. A fusion jazz styled piece with a swaying groove supported by drums, bass and rhythm guitar.

Don't await a recitation of tenors on Four Tenors. This piece features Brendan Ross on flute and of course Angelo Angelos' piano play in perfect harmony. Enjoy the genuine sound of acoustic instruments.

Surreptitious is an usual title for the next tune. The negative sense of this title doesn't mirror in Absolute Zero's performance. 

Rio is the homestead of Brazil's carnival and Absolute Zero catchs the spirit of Latin jazz. Bossa rhythm and a distortion guitar inspired by Carlos Santana creates a vivid Latin mood.

Special Person presents Constance Foster's natural vocals. The listener would like to get more information about this female singer, who deserves an own place on Absolute Zero's website.

LMJN (little mellow jazz number) is a lyrical piano piece with a smooth flute accompaniment. Pronounced is the rhythm factor with drums and percussion.

On Aftermath, a slow tempo piece, Brendan Ross plays a sax solo, then the tune accelerate to Angelo Angelos' piano solo with rockish speed.

Mervin Naidoo's bass introduces into 7th Heaven. A piece with much improvisations and tempo changes. Some swing, very jazzy in general.

When you miss the South African mood, you will satisfied with Township. That's the spirit of South Africa in a jazzy frame.

The second vocal tune Spirit features anew Constance Foster's warm voice intimately attended by Stephen Berliner's acoustic guitar. Very atmospheric.

Smooth Jazz fans who like to listen to some unadulterated music far beyond the radiolike style, should buy this album at  http://www.oneworld.co.za/.



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