Tuesday, 13 April 2010

John Blackwell Project - 4ever Jia - 2010 - JBP

YES! This is a great, great little number that contains many a choon worthy of your attention. It's NOT a bland smooth jazz set; it has plenty of backbone, teeth, raw energy and FUNK. Soulfulness is also to be found on this CD, and this is thanks to the wonderful Charlie Singleton of Cameo fame who contributes a song that has instantly become my current favourite song! That song is called, very aptly in my opinion, "Amazing" and features our hero on lead vocals, as well as the rest of the John Blackwell Project combo which is John Blackwell on drums, Will Lee on bass, Corey Bernhard on keyboards and Paul Pesco on guitars. A superb multi-talented array if ever I saw or heard one! "Amazing" hits us with all the dynamism of an early-mid 1980s Cameo number but totally fresh and contemporary with a superbly crafted production. I am so happy that songs of this caliber are still being laid down in a studio this day and age. The strength of this song alone renders the set essential. Fans of strong bass guitar a la Will Lee and soulful funk a la Cameo will die for this!

The jazzy numbers also sparkle (no Cameo pun intended, but the word is spot-on!) and I strongly recommend "Jeremiah's Sleepy Night" - great flute work and a strong melody that outstrips and towers over much of what we laughingly call Jazz in the US today. The delectable vocalist Lizzy Loeb (any relation to Chuck?) adds a delicate yet powerful vocal to "No Ordinary Day" - this is of a high standard and the likes of Marilyn Scott would do well on this type of material. The gorgeous backing harmonies too send chills down my spine. This is a truly great work. Jazz heads check ot the drum-led "Mind Of J". I really like the flow of this song - it's clever in that it rolls along but dramatically pauses for effect now and again. The key work is as good as anything I have heard from, say Ramsey Lewis or Joe McBride. Charlie Singleton slays us yet again with the KILLER "You're The One". Do I detect a slice of Autotune in there though? Even the Whispers have dabbled in that, but trust me this is no whining, warbly pin-up R'n'B juvenile effort. This is REAL. Superb!

The mellow - and gorgeously performed "Sexual Harassment" takes me right back to the days of Lee Ritenour's "Captain Fingers" or even some of Lenny Whit'e work with Twennynine. The sultry, tropical "Jada" is going to win over many a fan. There is a spine-tingling drunken guitar on here - something I cannot get enough of and Sue Quin's vocals are simply out of this world. This groove would not be out of place on a latter-day Leon Ware or Jon Lucien set - think "A Kiss In The Sand" or "A Time For Love" albums and you're not far wrong. On percussion we have Luis Conte too, and his eminence shines through. I cannot get enough of this album or songs such as these. An (almost) Jap Jazz approach can be found on "Jaiven" and "You Asked For It", and fans of groups such as the AB's, the Coconuts Crew or even Lenny White in his "Streamline" era will dig this kind of number. Oh, I cannot recommend this album enough...soul...jazz...and a bag of chips!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe