Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Virtual Jazz Band - The Jazz Club Vol. 1 - 2010 - VME

Trust me, folks, there is NOTHING virtual about this jazzy combo! If you love jazz and you love your soul music then this is a set for you. The album is one that beggars belief. Strong, soulful, jazzy and more competent than any of the limp offerings from the US, this group are masters of their craft and I for one would relish a chance to see them perform live - as they will do at the Jazz Café, Camden, London on the 15th April. The Virtual Jazz Band was created in 2005, and is comprised by brainchild and producer, Wayne Brown, who throws his weight in on Keyboards, as well as Neville Malcom on Bass, Jose Joyette on Drums, Elliott Randall on Guitars, Brian Edwards on Sax, and Lilia Iontcheva on percussion. This CD is SUPERB. The opening track, "Have You Ever Heard" by Jag is a tribute to the heydays of the jazz clubs, evoking the smokey atmosphere, hailing Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, the Nicholas Brothers, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holliday and other legends, and sung with real soulful passion by Jag, a vocalist in the mould of Stevie Wonder meeting Kenny Lattimore. A totally captivating performance and I am sure would be worth every penny live.

Virginia Constantine is our sexy, sultry vocalist on the excellent "Strange Divine", and worthy of anything classy you would ever hear on the Heads Up label. Jag's Rahsaan Patterson inspired groove, "Runaround" is a particular highlight and will particularly please all you soul heads out there! The Latin kick of Samudu Jayatalaka's cover of Stevie Wonder's timeless "I Love Everything About You" is particularly welcome, as is the further Latin number "Latin Lover". If you loved the recent Astral 22 compilation, and the strong uptempo female vocalist contained therein then you should head straight to track 8 where KG treats us to "A Different Kind Of Heat". More soulfully inclined, it is the piano that keeps us on a jazzy tip and both Ramsey Lewis and Joe McBride would definitely approve! Another soulful uptempo comes in the form of Sylvia Tella's "You Got Me In A Spin". Her sassy vocal is definitely jazzy and powerful. I hope our American friends are going to sit back and listen to albums such as this. I think they could re-learn a lot.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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