Readers of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden will know it’s the place to go for a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. In order to bring you more of the news more of the time this latest Secret Garden Snippet delivers another current sound bite from the adult contemporary scene. When, earlier this year, I visited Boise, Idaho for the first time I was immediately surprised and delighted by its vibrant downtown and sophisticated atmosphere. There and then I marked it down as a city I should return to someday and now I have found another reason for doing so. Two Reasons, the debut CD from smooth jazz trumpeter Jason Parra and his band the X Factor is one of the freshest new releases you will hear this year and its Boise that they call home and where they often perform.
A talented studio musician and songwriter, Jason has also found time to tour with Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Arturo Sandoval, Lionel Hampton, The James Brown Band and Gene Harris. In addition his profile has been enhanced by appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and NBC’s Today Show.
Two Reasons contains eleven, all original, compositions and from the first note of the first and title track it is clear that this is a piece of top notch smooth jazz. The second cut, the tight and funky ‘Agumala’ with Parra’s classy muted trumpet to the fore, is just as good and ‘Wish You Were Here’ is quite simply the best track on the album. It has the full brassy sound that the band generates by, at times, using X Factor member Darin Stubbs to double up on trumpet. As well as contributing to Parra’s distinctive sound this has the added advantage of making their live performances just as vibrant as their studio recordings.
In fact the composition of the X Factor is all about getting that full, ‘Tower of Power’, thing going with Kent Parsons on both sax and flute and outstanding keyboards from accomplished songwriter, arranger and producer Wayne Levy. This same signature sound is again in evidence on both ‘Twisted’, where they whip up a real frenzy and on ‘I Got To Be Myself’, a tune with a horn driven swing and the thread of a smooth melody running right through it. However, with ‘Mellow Traumatic’ Jason switches effortlessly to flugel horn and proves that he is quite capable of turning it down and in so doing producing a haunting melody that makes this track a little gem.
Jason Parra and the X Factor have been picking up some rave reviews for their recent live performances. Check them out if you can and be on the look out for Two Reasons which is a comprehensive showcase for their considerable talents.
Want to know more? Want to add a snippet of your own? E-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.Posted by Denis Poole at August 2, 2005 7:12 PM