May 17, 2011

Westbound - Gone For A Walk

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. Italian contemporary jazz outfit Westbound is actually the exquisite pairing of Cristian Rocco and Enrico Catena. Their latest project is the predominately mellow Gone For A Walk which finds Rocco providing eleven all new compositions to complement his fine work on guitars and keys. Catena is his usual tight self on drums and percussion yet the album also affords a platform for stellar performances by some great guest artists. One such collaborator is the superb Roberto Vally who has played extensively with Paul Brown and is the bass player of choice for Bobby Caldwell. He is featured on five of the twelve choice tracks and for one of them is joined by smooth jazz superstar Rick Braun. Recorded in Italy, the result is an excellent addition to this year’s crop of new music and an end to the myth that great smooth jazz is the exclusive province of the USA.

Gone For A Walk opens up with the ultra cool ‘Here I Am’ where a catchy hook proves to be a perfect device to get the show started. Elsewhere, the CD’s only cover is a relaxed instrumental version of Al Green’s seminal ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and although it checks all the right boxes the real magic comes courtesy of Rocco’s own music. A fine example of this is ‘Soul To Soul’ (where Rocco is reminiscent of Nils at his best) and another is ‘Hollywood Nocturne’ which glides along on a smooth guitar driven haze and enjoys the added benefit of a terrific piano solo from Lino Sabbadino.

‘Baker Street’ is not under any circumstances to be confused with the Jerry Rafferty classic of the same name and is in fact another slice of contemporary jazz at its compelling best. Indeed ‘compelling’ could well be a metaphor for the whole collection and is perfectly exemplified by the sultry groove of ‘The Big Chill’ and the delicious ‘Night Dance’. Both are in total contrast to the sunshine filled but equally pleasing ‘Baha’ while sunshine of a different kind comes courtesy of the feel good factor provided by ‘A Little Less’.

The title cut, with Braun’s moody trumpet and solid bass from Vally, is likely to grab the attention but truth to tell right up with there with it is the wonderfully happy vibe of ‘Globetrotter’. Already evolving into a real Secret Garden favourite this is a tune that is likely to play and play but just as good is ‘Babalu’ where an edgy streetwise intro paves a way to what is a totally ‘in the pocket’ delight.

Gone For A Walk is out now, comes recommended and is available at www.cdbaby.com.

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 May 17, 2011 9:18 PM