August 4, 2012

Jonathan Fritzen - Magical

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.

When Jonathan Fritzén’s highly acclaimed Diamonds made #1 on both the Billboard airplay charts and the sales chart it prompted legendary broadcaster Art Good to name Fritzén as his ‘debut artist of the year’. Maybe he was unaware that Fritzén’s first recording actually came in 2008 with the sumptuous Love Birds. With every one of its eleven original compositions reaching to the very core of what great smooth jazz should be it announced him as a performer of tremendous promise. Less than a year later Fritzén returned with the equally impressive VIP. Now, with the imminent release of his latest CD, the appropriately titled Magical, Fritzén seems all set to embark on another chapter of what is proving to be an outstanding career.

With Magical Fritzén’s talents as a composer, producer and performer are again all brilliantly on display. A case in point is the easy grooving title cut that finds Fritzén at his outstanding best and sublimely in tandem with sax-man Boney James who predictably leaves his mark all over this wonderful tune.

When Jackiem Joyner takes over on sax for the feel good flavor of ‘Love Will Overcome’ he assists Fritzén in checking every smooth jazz box imaginable while elsewhere the deliciously languid groove of ‘Sweet Spot’ owes much to the fabulous interplay between Fritzén and Paul Brown. Staying in mellow mode, the hugely cinematic ‘Angels’ proves just how effective Fritzén can be when shifting to a romantic vibe and this is also evident with the stunning ‘Nostalgia’. It combines elements of chill with marvelous melody in a way that only he can and in similar vein is the extremely sensuous ‘Nordic Night’. Later, when Fritzén calls on Darren Rahn (who also mixes the album) for the intensely poignant ‘Lullaby’ his contribution on sax serves as the perfect accompaniment to this heartfelt song and with ‘Cant Get You Out Of My Mind’ it’s the vocals of Danish singing star Malene Mortenson that pave the way to more of Fritzén’s superb playing on keys.

In the final analysis if anyone really wants to know what Jonathan Fritzén is all about they need look no further than the fabulous ‘Turn Back Time’. This vibrant number has that same catchy quality that typifies much of his best work and when the rapidly emerging Vincent Ingala becomes the last of four saxophonists to guest on ‘Magical’ his performance for ‘To The Top’ helps to create more of the delicious up-tempo same. However, all things considered there is nothing to surpass the rhythmic splendor of the superb ‘Electric’. Without doubt a contemporary jazz classic in the making, this is a track that is certain to make it into my top twenty of 2012.

With a street date of August 21, Magical comes hugely recommended.

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Posted by Denis Poole at August 4, 2012 4:49 PM