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. As well as being arguably the best contemporary jazz release of the year so far Reminisce by DeNate also heralds the brand new pairing of keyboard player Nate Harasim and vocalist Deborah Connors. Discovered (and encouraged to combine) by nuGroove President and industry veteran David Chackler they have not only delivered a debut of stunning quality but also struck upon a format that, on today’s smooth jazz scene, is refreshingly unique.
With talents that encapsulate performing writing and production DeNate has found a sublime knack of coming up with songs that are sometimes catchy, often hypnotic but invariably memorable. They demonstrate all these attributes and more with the sumptuous title cut where, not for the only time, Connors shows off vocals that have a distinctly Lisa Stansfield feel about them. In fact every note that she vocalizes has a breathy seductiveness to it and, not surprisingly, this is particularly the case with the aptly titled ‘So Sexy’. The mid tempo ‘You are My Everything’ also checks all the right boxes and provides an exquisite platform for the DeNate combination to really flourish while ‘All You Are To Me’ has an atmospheric groove that typifies much of what the duo is all about. ‘Let Your Body Move’ provides a zesty departure from the wonderful mood music that permeates much of the album but DeNate is quickly back ‘on message’, first with ‘I Can Take You There’ (with its vibe to die for) and again for ‘Still Be Strong’ which features outstanding bass from Mel Brown. It’s a tune that finds Connors at her ‘Stansfield-esque’ best and is one of eight tracks written by Harasim and Connors. Just as significant, the two choice covers that complete the collection have been beautifully selected to complement their own incredible work.
Their fresh take on Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’ is particularly notable with Connors turning in a performance of which Annie Lennox would be more than proud whilst even better is DeNate’s interpretation of the timeless ‘Secret Garden’. The many covers that have followed in the wake of this Quincy Jones blockbuster has proved, that such is the power and structure of this magnificent song, it is almost impossible to do it badly. However, DeNate grab the chance with both hands to add something new and different. The fresh twist afforded by the vocal duet of Connors and Maurice Mahon is nothing short of sensational while Harasim’s subtle production is just right. It allows the tune to build with breathtaking effect and, on most albums, this would undoubtedly be the killer cut. However, just edging it is DeNate’s own ‘Missin’ You’. This incredibly turned down gem finds Connors in typically sultry mode, Harasim picture perfect on keys and Michael Powell making an understated, yet colossal, contribution on guitar. Already it is certain to be one of my top tracks of 2008.
Reminisce by DeNate was released across the USA on August 19 and comes highly recommended.Posted by Denis Poole at October 14, 2008 12:01 PM