Michael Fair - How Close Are We?
trumpet is certainly a popular instrument in smooth jazz. Everybody
knows trumpet player like Herb Alpert, Chris Botti or Rick Braun.
Michael Fair is a new name, a musician who deserves your
His new album "How Close Are
We?" (2003) is his second solo album after "Love Me Like
That", which was released in 2002. Both album are basing on a
collaboration between Michael Fair and Brandon Barnes. Brandon Barnes
is a music genius like Brian Culbertson. While Michael is
concentrating on trumpet and flugelhorn, Brandon Barnes is playing
keyboards, guitar and programming. Brandon Barnes is a multi
Grammy nominated writer. He has co-written some of Brian McKnight's
biggest hits including The Way Love Goes, Goodbye My Love,
One Last Cry, Never Felt This Way, Last Dance, 6
8 12, What's It Gonna Be, and Still just to name a
few. Brandon also wrote songs for Kim Waters, Kirk Whalum, Art Porter,
Alicia Keys, Take 6 and a lot prolific artists more. Now he has
co-written 11 songs of the new album too.
Herb Alpert has
influenced Michael Fair's music. He began playing the songs that he
heard his parents listening to by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass.
There is no great difference to this master of trumpet. Nevertheless
Michael Fair prefers the silky side of smooth jazz.
likes to play his trumpet with some reverb, while the other
instruments are mainly staying in the foreground. With this acoustical
effect both players are creating a stage in the soundscape with
Michael's trumpet in the center. You will never overhear that this is
a trumpet album. It's absolutely the lead instrument on this
Close Are We? is a groovy piece with programmed rhythm and
keyboard layers like a carpet of synth strings. Michael's playing is
easy and sovereign. The title song introducing in this album is a
Scared is very rhythm orientated. The programmed rhythm always
stay on the same level while Michael is performing variations of the
song motif. Brandon Barnes also adds some keyboard sounds and a synth
Last Cry was written by Brandon Barnes, Melanie Barnes and
Brian McKnight. This song is getting a classic. It was already covered
by Kim Waters ("It's Time For Love"), Michael White
("Side By Side") or Marty Q ("Sentimental
Christmas"). Michael Fair's version has its own character.
New Attitude has some freaky contemporary elements like
scratching as a rhythm component. Michael's approach to Herb Alpert's
modern albums like "Colors" is phenomenal. I also like Brandon
Barnes' Hammond B3 throw-in.
Sunrise has a certain retro-appeal. Some Cha-Cha rhythms and
acoustic guitar slicks are a wonderful frame. The syncopated rhythm
breaks are salt and pepper right in time. Awesome the piano solo,
which could really be longer.
Pileup has a disco rhythm which is standing in contrast to
Michael Fair's sustained trumpet sound. Looks like both artists have
used some over-dubbing features.
The title Midnight
Groove is typical for Smooth Jazz and the music behind this
title too. The attributes slow, dreamy and snugly caressing may characterize
Afternoon Drive provokes the association of a coastal drive
near Santa Barbara, the sunny California beach.
The slow A
Fool Again shows up Michael Fair's love to bar music. Jazz
brushes and some jazzy guitar chords intensify this impression.
Front Hideaway is finally my break through. Catchy melody and
performance are absolutely convincing.
Or West? is another hooky song, which stays in mind.
contemplative Nylon Samba is a worthy
closing of this matured project.
Fans of Smooth
Jazz especially of trumpet music will like this album with a silky