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.
Move over Phil Spector, a new wall of sound is in town and it comes from that excellent French born guitarist U-Nam who, with his latest CD C'est Le Funk, has delivered the most explosive contemporary jazz project of recent years. Make no mistake this one is special and if you were to think of your favorite party album of all time, then multiply its intensity by ten, you would still be some distance from conjuring up the power of this supercharged recording.
Take for example 'Something's Up' that, with a vibe totally reminiscent of Earth Wind & Fire at its best, is tailor-made to enliven even the most tired of dancing feet or the intense shuffling beat of 'Throwback Kid' which has all the attributes of being seriously addictive. Both are U-Nam originals but when the emphasis switches to cover versions he blows the doors off with the fabulous 'City Lights' from Chic's 1982 disco album, Tongue In Chic.
U-Nam also breathes new life into the 1989 Maze classic 'Can't Get Over You' and although his rendition of Keni Burke's seminal 'Risin' To the Top' is a rock solid certainty for my top ten best covers of 2014, there is an equally strong case for the high octane 'Act Like You Know' that with vocals from Tim 'Tio' Owens makes the 1982 original from Fat Larry's Band seem almost mellow in comparison.
However it is with his own compositions that U-Nam really comes up big and a case in point is 'Starlight Lover' which uses a luscious soulful intro to lay a path to his intricate jazzy playing. U-Nam's foot remains firmly on the gas for the wonderful 'Just Like That' and when he calls on regular collaborator Shannon Kennedy to add some sax magic to the expansive title cut they together deliver a dance floor filler of the highest order.
It is one of three tracks that have already been serviced to radio and another is the wonderfully retro tinged 'Smoovin' which, with a real 'Saturday Night Fever' thing going on, is entirely representative of what C'est Le Funk is all about.
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.