Wessel - So Fine

One of the artists of the Heads Up sampler Smooth Africa and an important represantative of South African Smooth Jazz is Wessel. Wessel is Wessel van Rensburg. His sound was influenced by Acoustic Alchemy having worked with Tristian Malliot and Andrew Kleindeit

In January of 1999, Wessel performed in two shows as opening act for Joe McBride on his tour to South Africa, with Denny Lalouette on bass and Rob Watson on drums making up the rest of the band. The US jazz pianist enjoyed the support provided by Wessel and praised the abilities of all the SA musicians who got to play with him, in Johannesburg and Cape Town. That was the reason Wessel's tune Soweto found its way on the above mentioned sampler.

Wessel's second solo project So Fine was released in 2001 on the Sheer Sound label. Wessel has composed all tunes with the exception of You And The Night And The Music. What you can await: A laid-back Smooth Jazz experience with African overtones and sultry melodies firmly rooted in the African way..

On City Of Dreamers, a midtempo tune Mccoy Mrubata blows an intimate sax following and improvising on Wessel's sensible piano play.

Tell Me Tomorrow has the basic rhythm well-known by US-American radio-like Smooth Jazz production. The tune is flowing smoothly as Wessel describes his music himself.

Just Walking was written in memory of Ingrid. Ernie Smith is performing his guitar and showcases his mellow voice. The attentive reader will be familiar with his music by my review about his own project Child Of The Light.

The title tune So Fine is a well-arranged very radio-friendly tune with a hooking melody. The track improves by his rhythm-emphatic style. A good platform for Wessel's and John Fourie's solos on piano and guitar.

Pictures In My Side-Mirror presents a bright theme with Kevin Davidson's toffy flute.

The piano is an instrument which offers the broadest possibilities of expressions and Wessel uses these opportunities as exercises on Sound Of Sky. A calm and cautious approach to the melody and the improvisation about the theme.

The Blessing has a certain similiarity to Pat Metheny's music as Wessel humed partly to the melody played by Mccoy Mrubata on sax. After a slow beginning the tune gains its velocity in a dynamic bow.

Most of the tracks like the following The Time Is Now have a melody which is the starting point for Wessel extensive piano solos. Enough space to let your thoughts flow while listening to his music.

Soweto is a special tune, very inspiring and with a strong hooking melody. I absolutly understand that Dave Love has choosen this tune for his Smooth Africa sampler. Wessel comments: "A little while back, I found myself rummaging through my old record collection and to my delight came accross one of the first Jazz albums I ever bought: Joe Sample's "Voices in the Rain." Listening to Sample's music after so many years reminded me why he has remained such a strong influence - his strong melodic lines and deceivingly accessible harmonies tend to invite a wider audience than just the pure Jazz listener. With this in mind, I decided to get some friends together and to attempt to do the same - to create music that I enjoy, but also inspires some sense of enjoyment in a wider audience..."

Somehow is Soweto a turning-point of this album. The Emperor's Clothes has a smooth mood starting with the lovely voice of the attractive TK. But than appears Sifiso Sudan's additive rap song, I personally experience as a modernistic break into this album.

You And The Night And The Music is a jazz classic, often covered by great artists like Chris Potter, Art Blakey, Chet Baker, Dionne Warwick, Frank Sinatra, Stan Getz, Bill Evans and many more. Bruce Cassidy on trumpet presents a modern version. The old stuff is still fascinating.

Those who miss the African style: Mapantsula is such good-tempered piece. I especially like the warm character of Russel Sterling's guitar. Am I an incorrigible romanticist?

The Emperor's Clothes in an instrumental version is finishing this album. Without the rap song the tune has the right flavor. Wessel is concentrating on the part, he is skilful in: the piano play.

Those who understand Smooth Jazz as melodic and unobtrusive music will like this uncomplicated album. Those who like a more sophisticated style will wish more space for further and more extensive solos. But that would be stuff for a life album.

HBH

 
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