Welcome 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. Christian Rocco and Enrico Catena are the smooth jazz duo Westbound. Being based in Italy they are a considerable distance from their natural market of the west coast of the USA, in fact they are ‘miles away’ from it. Yet despite this they have come up with a wonderful collection of contemporary jazz all bundled together into the appropriately titled CD Miles Away. Nine of the ten tracks have been written and produced by them and with the picture perfect blend of Catena’s drums and percussion fused with Rocco’s mix of guitars and keyboards they can take considerable credit for an album that oozes melodic and gentle sophistication. The scene is set early with the track ‘Smooth’. The title says everything about this tune that has a delightful guitar melody running right through it and, when it is reprised later, the ‘radio edit’ sounds just as good.
Other tracks such as ‘Spring Break’, with its complex arrangements, and ‘St Peters Farm’ that allows itself to get nice and jazzy also burst with the same gentle melody but when the guys turn tight and funky for ‘From NY To LA’ they still retain the same luscious yet minimalist Westbound sound. From the catchily Latin ‘Corona Del Mar’ to the Acoustic Alchemy overtones of ‘The Wrong Place’ the band keep coming up with lovely surprises and there is none more so than ‘Back Bay’. Here, with a quicker tempo and an altogether bigger beat, they almost engender a rock vibe but are right back on message with ‘Ivan’, a really wonderful song that lifts the spirits. The one track not written by Rocco is ‘Estate’. This Martino – Brighetti composition has a moody intro and a compelling bass line. It drips with the melody that is a hallmark of the entire collection.
Miles Away deserves to make a real impact but unless the CD gets the radio exposure that it richly deserves then it is unlikely to do so.Posted by Denis Poole at June 26, 2006 12:36 AM