Much of the early buzz surrounding the release of East Bay Soul 2.0 has been about how a sensational campaign to raise the $25,000 necessary to record the album hit its target. However, now it’s all about the music. Make no mistake, this is a collection of the highest order and everything (plus a little bit more) that one would expect from the creative genius of its creator Greg Adams. Of course Adams was the founding member of Tower of Power where his signature sound as performer and arranger made the TOP horn section a sought out entity all it's own. Now, factor in Darryl Walker's powerful soul drenched vocals, add eight other world class artists and the result is a singular vision of instrumental funk, jazz and soul music brought to audiences in a fresh new way. This is new a movement in Urban Jazz; this is East Bay Soul 2.0.
If anyone is in any doubt as to the credentials of this highly anticipated release they need look no further than the big, brassy and in your face ‘The Getaway’ which provides a wonderful platform for Adams on muted trumpet. Totally in the finest traditions of what he does best it is mirrored by ‘Back to Oakland’, which serves as a superb showcase for the entire band. This tremendous coming together of the horn and rhythm sections also includes a taster of Darryl Walker’s vocals, yet Walker is found at his soulful best for the albums only cover, Adams silky re-imaging of the Marvin Gaye classic ‘What’s Going On’.
When Walker returns for the emotionally supercharged ‘I’m Coming Home’ he helps to provide one of the CD’s more tender moments yet truth to tell Adams creates adequate time and space for some outstandingly soul tinged ballads. In this respect there is none better than the magnificent ‘Once and For All’ while elsewhere ‘The Love Of My Life’ proves to be another big, soulful ballad with Walker very much center stage. He sticks around for the high octane and totally enthralling ‘The Devil You Know’ but when the emphasis switches back to instrumentals, the joyous ‘Carry On’ finds Adams in fabulous form. It’s the sort of track to put a huge smile on your face and, with a smattering of Hammond-B3 from Joey Navarro, is completely on the money.
The aptly named ‘Brassalicious’ just about explains all you need to know about this lusciously funky tune and the first single to be serviced to radio is ‘To Catch A Thief’ which features Adams on Flugelhorn. The title ‘To Catch A Thief’ was inspired by the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name. In writing the song it conjured up for Adams the role of John Robie, a reformed jewel thief known as “The Cat” who, in the film, was played by the great Cary Grant. With a languid yet easy grooving vibe this ultra cool cut benefits from more killer Hammond B3 Navarro and is certain to do well.
The street date for East Bay Soul 2.0 has been slated for February 28, 2012 and is sure to be a highpoint of the contemporary jazz year.
J E F F * D A N I E L S
Pierre Copeland, I'm On Fire (Piemando Records) (2011)
Lori Williams, Healing Within (Pacific Coast Jazz) (2010)
Godwin, Here's My Heart (The Urban Dance Experience) (2011)
Airborne, Back in the Dayz - Airborne Anthology (Tilt Records) (2011)
P E T E R * B O E H I
Cinque - Catch A Corner (2011)
This is an organic band with a funky backdrop created by Steve Gadd on drums, Joey DeFrancesco on organ and Peter Cardinali on bass, with Robi Botos on piano and John Johnson on saxes. The band delivers a bunch of nicely grooving songs with strong solos by all involved, the musicianship is truly superior. Thumbs up!
Najee - The Smooth Side Of Soul (2012)
Another solid release by saxophonist Najee who also plays the flute, this album delivers more of his groovy smooth jazz, supported by some great guest artists like Phil Perry on vocals and Jeff Lorber and James Lloyd on keyboards. Tried and tested stuff!
Paul Whitley - Versatility (2011)
Excellent album by guitarist Paul Whitley offering a nice mix of funky and mellow instrumentals, with a great cast of players. This is a top-notch album delivering the good stuff. Very recommended!
Earth, Wind & Fire - The Complete Columbia Masters Collection (2011)
Massive 15 CD box set covering the whole output at Columbia by this seminal r&b/funk band between 1972 and 1990. There are must-have albums like Last Days And Time, Head To The Sky, Open Our Eyes, That's The Way Of The World, Gratitude, Spirit, All 'N All, Best Of Vol. 1, I Am and later releases that unfortunately are not up to par with their earlier output, but nevertheless, this box belongs into every collection. The sound quality unfortunately could have been a bit better. Anyway, classic stuff anyone needs!
Gato Barbieri - Euphoria (1979)
This classic LP by saxophonist Gato Barbieri was produced and arranged by Jay Chattaway, boasting the best of the NY session scene like Ron Carter, Anthony Jackson, Neil Jason, Billy Cobham, Eric Gale, Steve Khan, Richard Tee - the list goes on. One of my favorites of Gato!
D E N I S * P O O L E
‘March On’ by Marcin Nowakowski from the CD Shine. This cool mid tempo cut has much to commend it but of particular note are the last 50 seconds where the groove drenched interplay between Nowakowski and Jeff Lorber (who writes and produces the tune) is out of this world.
‘Road Trip’ by Michael Lington from his soon to be released CD Pure. Featuring Lee Ritenour on guitar this is a tune that is full of the gutsy ‘in your face’ playing for which Lington is best known.
‘You Are Too Beautiful’ by Kirk Whalum from the album Romance Language. The surprise packet of the entire collection, this sensational eight minute thirty two second R & B interpretation of the Rodgers & Hart classic is really something special. Beginning with Kevin Whalum’s sparkling vocal, and transitioning to a deep soul groove that is totally out of this world, this, if listened to in the company of the one you love, may well need to be handled with care.
‘Sweet Ladies’ by Quintin Gerard W from his hot new CD Before It’s Gone. This sumptuous tune with a lusciously seductive vibe is as good an example of top notch urban jazz as will be found anywhere.
‘Get Here’ by Eric Marienthal from his brand new release It’s Love. Brenda Russell’s timeless composition proved to be a massive hit for Oleta Adams and those who have seen Adams perform it live will need no reminding of the emotion that she packs into each and every note. There can be no finer complement than to say Marienthal’s instrumental version does all this and more.