February 28, 2008

Saxman Lerman is back on the prowl with Meow Baby

Album released to strong reviews as “No Ordinary Love” captures hearts at radio

If cats have nine lives, perhaps soul-groove saxophonist Danny Lerman is on his third. On February 26th he released his third album, Meow Baby, on Sugar Whiskey Records, his record label distributed by Lightyear Entertainment/EMI. Lerman’s mélange of accessible contemporary jazz, funk-da-fied R&B and shimmering pop melodies incorporates Latin, South African, Middle Eastern and World Music nuances that were inspired by his extensive travels and performances around the globe over the past decade.

Lerman co-wrote a dozen songs for Meow Baby and recorded two covers – John Lennon’s “Imagine,” featuring Howard Hewett’s caramelized vocals, and a sensual instrumental version of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love,” which is presently steaming up radio playlists. Appearing as a bonus track, “You Take My Breath Away” was originally released on Lerman’s top 20 debut disc, Danny’s Island. Drummer Tal Bergman (Rod Stewart, Billy Idol, Loreena McKennitt, Herb Alpert, Chaka Khan), who worked on Danny’s Island, returned to produce ten tracks in addition to providing exciting, exotic beats. Seminal urban jazz artist Norman Connors produced a few additional tracks. In the recording studio, Lerman’s lethal hit squad was locked and loaded with notorious musicians such as Randy Brecker, Hubert Laws, Paul Jackson Jr., Bobby Lyle, and Munyungo Jackson.

In anticipation of the album release, Lerman has been active on the concert trail over the past five weeks. He began in mid-January with a trio of Los Angeles-area concerts and continued with dates in the Midwest and West Coast. Earlier this month, Lerman performed the National Anthem before a Notre Dame ice hockey game in his hometown, South Bend, Indiana, which was a thrill for the still avid hockey player-turned-musician. On March 25th, he’ll perform the anthem before the Chicago Bulls NBA game at the United Center.   

The initial reaction to Meow Baby has been overwhelmingly positive. Here is a sampling of what some have written:

All Music Guide: “Lerman aggressively pursues his rhythms and grooves with the kind of musicality that has been championed by the like of Dave Koz, Jimmy Sommers and Eric Marienthal… With 15 compositions to lighten your mood, set a romantic theme, or just keep you chillin' to his contemporary saxophonics, Danny Lerman and his special guests have delivered a set that is as personal as a love song and as accessible as a sunny day on a tropical island.”

Baltimore Times: “The CD is very hot…The influences of the various countries can be heard on the album. The combinations of the sax, flute and trumpet, not to mention the guitar styles of Paul Jackson Jr. make for an excellent work of art.”

Reno Gazette-Journal: “Saxophonist Danny Lerman's approach to contemporary jazz is like a paleontological expedition, a layer cake that represents a variety of musical influences coalesced through his sensibilities… The cheeky track ‘Don't GoGo There’ features trumpet work by Brecker and is a prime example of how the song's inspirational DNA, the execution and production combined to provide a layered offering, dripping a buffet of styles…At the center of it all is Lerman's horn, a frequently mellifluous approach that can erupt into a growl -- rather than the meow referenced in the album title.”

Jazz Review: “There is a musicality that leaps off the disc and a degree of composition consistent with the best music currently heard on smooth jazz radio… There are a number of strong tracks on the disc. The opener, ‘Meow Baby,’ is a great composition in the new tradition of up-tempo and strong groove oriented music making the airwaves these days, and ‘The First Time’ floats as prettily as a sailboat on a calm sea.”

Smooth Jazz Therapy: “The pedigree of ‘Meow Baby’ is impeccable. Featured percussion from Munyungo Jackson plus production by Tal Bergman and Norman Connors all add to the quality yet, that said, this is very much Lerman’s project. He co-writes a dozen of the songs and, with sumptuous playing from beginning to end, is making a statement that Danny Lerman is all set to move into the upper echelon of smooth jazz saxophonists.”

N2Entertainment.net: “…Lerman shows he hasn't lost his groove or any signs of a sophomore slump… This isn't one of those CD's you'll be skipping around tracks as every single one is a sure-fire hit…”

Trish Hennessey of WSMJ-FM 104.3 Baltimore: “It's a breath of fresh air!" 

Additional information is available at www.dannylerman.com.

Posted by Peter Böhi at February 28, 2008 7:48 PM