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.
Ever since 1997, when they burst onto the scene with the seminal Manhattan To Staten, Down To The Bone has been all about the groove. The brainchild of non musician Stuart Wade, Down To The Bone came out of the acid jazz movement that was prevalent in the UK during the early 90’s. In the intervening years, and with sax man Shilts at its centre, the band delivered a series of high octane albums but now (with Shilts away to pursue his solo career) DTTB are entering a new phase of what by any measure continues to be an interesting career. Recently signed to Trippin N Rhythm, the band’s latest offering is The Main Ingredients where the forte Wade has for using his production skills to bring alive his musical idea’s through a frequently changing group of ultra-talented performers is once more reaping rich dividends.
Talking of DTTB’s frequently changing personnel, The Main Ingredients finds the excellent Oli Silk playing keys and sharing writing credits on three of the tracks. Of these, the intensely rhythmic ‘Music Is The Key’ is underpinned by Wade’s luscious horn arrangements and also happens to be the first single to be serviced to radio while ‘South Side Overdrive’ finds the collective DTTB line-up at its ultra funky best. Silk is again on top form with the Latin tinged ‘Watch Me Fly’ that is brought alive by wonderful vocals from former Eurovision contestant Imaani and in similar vein is ‘Second Nature’ where her contribution is just as good. The song is co-written by Neil Angilley whose performance on keys really steals the show and his contribution is equally significant with the easy grooving ‘Uptown Hustle’ which is notable for more of DTTB’s trademark funk.
In this respect it is in the good company of ‘Cut And Run’ and, although the (relatively) relaxed yet totally mesmerising ‘Universal Vibe’ owes much to splendid bass from Julian Crampton, when Imaani returns for a third and final time the delightfully soulful ‘Closer’ proves to be one of the album’s standout tracks. That said, in terms of personal favourites the brass driven ‘Together We Stand’ is right up there. With the horn section of Tim Smart on trombone, trumpeter Ryan Jacob and sax-man Tom Richards making velvety magic, the whole tune sizzles in a way that perhaps only the music of DTTB can.
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.