Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Out today across the USA, Metamorphosis is the seventh solo CD from singing sensation Maysa Leak. Variously produced by Rex Rideout, Chris ‘Big Dog’ Davis and the Jason Miles – DJ Logic pairing of Global Noize it offers twelve sumptuous tracks that ooze sophistication and which feature notable contributions from some of the leading contemporary jazz session players around today.
This is particularly well demonstrated by the opening track ‘Simpatico’ where thumping bass from Melvin Davis and the drums of Michael White provide a rhythmic platform from which Leak proffers her soulful tones. It’s a number on which Rex Rideout, both as producer and keyboard player, really excels and much the same can be said of Chris Davis with ‘Take Me Away’ where Maysa seamlessly blends a cool sample of Jean Carn’s ‘Don’t Let It Go To Your Head’ into this emotional smoker. Of course since the early nineties, when she auditioned for the band by phone, Maysa has been famous for being one of the voices of Incognito. The complex yet compelling ‘Happy Feelings’ evokes her best Incognito moments as does ‘Never Really Ever’ for which Rex Rideout again plays a part. Both tracks contrast nicely with the gentle deconstructed splendour of ‘Love So True’ while also in turned down mode is the silkily soulful ‘I Need A Man’.
Earlier this year producer and keyboard player Jason Miles collaborated with DJ Logic on a project they named Global Noize. Here Leak taps into their hip rhythmic and eclectic style with ‘A Conversation With The Universe’ that she co-writes and performs with them. The tune’s world vibe represents a tasty departure from the Maysa norm and when, with ‘Walk Away’, she finds the ideal R & B ballad it’s a cool arrangement from Ledisi that incorporates a stunning brass infused play out line which comes courtesy of Melvin Jones on trumpet.
Dedicated to her mother and co-written by Leak, Rideout and the excellent Michael Ripoll, ‘Grateful’ is illuminated by Ripoll’s wonderful acoustic guitar and when Maysa turns to Najee on flute for ‘My Destiny’ he strikes the perfect chord with which to complement her picture perfect delivery. Najee is joined by Nick Colionne for ‘Higher Love’ where together they weave some exquisitely jazzy patterns that underpin Leak’s zesty Latin tinged vocal and Colionne returns to lead off what proves to be a staggering three minute ten second guitar introduction to the outstanding ‘Lets Figure It Out’. In the expert hands of producer Chris Davis this superb slice of chill out music evolves both into a feisty dance floor filler and the album’s best track.
Metamorphosis is an impressive collection of all-original material that may well be the album to take Maysa to the next level of appreciation. Check it out.Posted by Denis Poole at October 13, 2008 11:55 AM