March 31, 2006

Nick Colionne - Keepin It Cool

NickColionne2.jpgWelcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Keepin It Cool is the brand new release from guitar man Nick Colionne. Although his fifth CD in all its his first on Narada Jazz and, in a career that has seen more than its fair share of false starts, looks set to propel him into the upper echelons of smooth jazz stardom. Like Colionne himself Keepin It Cool is very much a product of Chicago. With twelve of the thirteen tracks written or co-written by him, and the CD recorded in or around town, Colionne has captured the Windy City’s knack of producing smooth jazz with an edge. This is an album that is never boring, carries a few surprises along the way and, given that many of the musicians assembled for the project are happy to call Chicago home, further accentuates the city’s natural groove.

That said there is nothing surprising about the opening cut, the ridiculously catchy ‘Can You Feel It’. A candidate for best track on the album it exemplifies the vibrant playing that Colionne’s unique style is all about. Always seemingly brim full of influences yet distinctly all his own he carries the entire collection with a soulful sophistication that oozes class. The title track is exactly what it suggests, ultra cool but re-enforced by Colionne’s hallmark sound while on ‘Always Thinking Of You’ the keyboards of co-writer John Blasucci provide a smoky earthiness that Nick overlays with laid back yet groovy guitar. This is the first single from the album and is already racing up the chart of most played on smooth jazz radio.

A chance encounter that Nick had with Peter White in Chicago has led to a firm musical friendship and this interaction has spilled over into the excellent ‘If You Ask Me’ that is co-written by Colionne, White and Chicago-land native Steve Cole. Cole also produces and arranges this catchy yet romantic foot tapper and romance is again on the agenda for ‘You Were There For Me’. It has a dreamy quality about it and if you ever thought that time could stand still while with a loved one then ‘A Moment With You’ would be the tune to confirm it. With a vibe not too far removed from Acoustic Alchemy it is a number with which Colionne demonstrates his versatility and he does it again on the top notch slice of smooth jazz ‘John L’. Despite its Chicago origins this one has a real west coast feel and in the same copper plated smooth jazz vein is ‘Catch Me’ for which ‘radio ready’ would be an apt description.

This collection, that spans a whole range of musical emotions, moves comfortably from the lusciously romantic ‘From Me To You’, a track with the ability to grow on you, to the mid tempo and uplifting ‘This Is The Song’ but comes right back to Chicago with the ultra funky ‘Liquid’. Co-written by Colionne and Steve Cole with Cole on keyboards sax and flute this edgy piece of mid west smooth jazz features locals Mike Logan on Hammond B3 and Richard Patterson on bass for one of the highlights of the entire album.

Colionne makes full use of his touring band on several of the tracks. Most notably Chris Miskel on drums and Dave Hiltebrand on bass join with co-writer and keyboard player John Blasucci for the catchy, infectious ‘High Flyin’ and are together again for one of the albums real magic moments. The Colionne cover of Brook Benton’s ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’ is the only vocal track on the CD and at first seems to be a surprising choice. However it quickly develops to show off another dimension of Colionne’s considerable talents. Quite simply it is a stunning interpretation of a classic tune.

Keepin It Cool is sure to be one of the standout releases of 2006. His 1996 CD was titled Arrival but now he is really here. For Nick Colionne his time has come.

For more on Nick and for his tour schedule go to www.nickcolionne.com

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at March 31, 2006 7:01 PM