Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. 2010 has provided some wonderful contemporary jazz surprises and none more so than the stunning debut recording from producer, keyboardist, engineer, and songwriter Hart Ramsey. Titled Charge It To My Heart and featuring guest performances from Eric Essix, Phil Davis, Kelley O'Neal and Rick Watford, it’s emergence as one of the hottest releases of the year is perhaps all the more surprising for the fact that Ramsey has a Doctorate in Pastoral Ministry. In fact when not making music he teaches weekly services at Northview Christian Church in Alabama. However, although the collection does have a slight gospel tinge, it differentiates itself not with any sacred element but by the quality of the music which in terms of contemporary jazz is as good as anything currently on offer.
Ramsey explains the origin of the CD’s twelve all original compositions as songs he has written over the years with melodies that have touched his heart. The selection includes several cuts with all the attributes necessary to stand the test of time and one such number is the hauntingly beautiful ‘Longing’ (included in both instrumental and ‘introspective’ form) where Ramsey’s cool keys grab the plaudits. It is right up there with the album’s best and, in this respect, is in the excellent company of the distinctly hip ‘Something New’ that features Phil Davis on keyboards. Just as good is the tight, in the pocket, ‘What About Love’ where the interplay between Ramsey and sax-man Kelley O’Neal is nothing short of magical. However, that said, a real personal favorite is the high octane ‘Centerpiece’. This upbeat sensation includes more great sax from co-writer O’Neal, Ramsey at his impressive best and a fabulous guitar solo from Eric Essix who over the years has enjoyed solo smooth jazz hits with tunes such as ‘For Real’ and ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’.
The combination of these three players’ works to perfection and on other tracks is replicated several times. They are again to the fore with ‘Be Attitude’ which proves to be a swaggering slice of mid tempo smooth jazz and when Essix gives way to the equally impressive Rick Watford for the decidedly edgy ‘Keep Showing Up’, his rock inspired guitar solo steals the show. Watford also comes up big on the easy paced ‘Archangel’ where a more melodic approach coupled with a shuffling backbeat makes this one a real gem but when Essix steps up for ‘Prey Before You Go’ he takes center stage for what can best described as a restrained charmer.
Robert Moe’s inspirational vocal provides a velvety backdrop to the shimmering ‘Be Who You Make Me Be’ where Ramsey on keys is top notch and he confirms his gospel roots with the uplifting ‘You Are My Life’. It is a great example of how sacred music can also be entirely current and when O’Neal makes a welcome return he adds hugely to the chilled out ‘Fitly Joined Together’ before ruffling the aura surrounding the sparse yet beautiful ‘I Found In You’ with some timely sax interventions.
Charge It to My Heart is out now on N-Coded Music and is a total delight.
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.Posted by Denis Poole at December 17, 2010 4:49 PM