Friday, 20 February 2009

Chardavoine - Fifth Season - 2003 - Chardavoine Music

2003 was a very busy year for quality soul and jazz, and one such track getting a lot of 'buzz' was the Frank Williams vocal cut "Layback" which was the main reason I did not hesitate in ordering this CD via CD Baby. This CD reminds me very much of the quality jazz-fusion sets that were widely available during the latter 1980s / early 1990s before this nasty Smooth Jazz (muzak) fodder took over. Recorded between 1994 and 2003, this is indeed a very enjoyable, colourful musical patchwork quilt of an album that can be popped into the CD player and left to its own devices; I feel a sense of Curtis Ohlson’s general style here. We’re talking a fresh, tossed salad of a jazz-fusion album that sees no one single instrument dominate the songs. Chardavoine is a multi-talented artist who can play many instruments, he is a songwriter, arranger and producer and I hope that we have more to come in the future from this man. The songs? We have elements of Craig T. Cooper on the Latin vibe of "I Remember Ernie", and flautist Dave Valentin steps up to the front on "Jamaal’s Song" to work his magic.

There are plenty of quality vocal arrangements, too – as it is the CD opens with the barnstormer, "Layback". On this tune Frank and Chardavoine conjure up a heady midtempo groove with an irresistible rhythm that is dominated by Frank’s soulful vocals.
Carol Cooper is an excellent female vocalist who reminds me very slightly of Aja Fatin from Kindred and appears on the Earl Klugh-ish title track. The main man, Frank Williams returns on the acoustic tapper "Who Could It Be", and Carol Cooper takes the lead on the summery floater "Illusions" – this is another strong track. If these two amazing vocal talents are not enough to satisfy your thirst then let me introduce you to the wonderful Zion who reminds me of Amy Keys in her performance. Another talent is Steffany Bready who pops up on "Toujours". If the vocal songs are your thing (as they are mine) then find satisfaction here – however the instrumentals are absolutely charming and "Passion Stroke" is a slice of guitar and soprano sax heaven, and similar can be said about "Malaeeka" which features sax by the jolly-named Cornelius Bumpus who was the saxophonist with the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. The final cut "Forgotten Dreams" is more programmed but has that fresh, wide-open-spaced jazz feel along with the Craig T. Cooper-ish influenced guitar and hi-hat beat. Highly recommended.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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