Archive for CDs

Four80East – Off Duty

Four80East - Off Duty Album CoverHot off the press and into my new albums playlist on spotify this week, Four80East’s latest offering, Off Duty. Frequently blasting out of my car speakers as I embark on another long trip somewhere, Four80East have once again made an easy home in my hi-fi. Their unmistakable style still shining strong and true but the fresh nature of the music on this pressing simply can’t be ignored.

After a few minutes on the turntable I can’t help but draw distinct parallels with Nocturnal, the sultry undertones and softer rhythm section lending its self strongly to that laid back, late night lounge listening with a long tall one and a summer breeze drifting across the terrace.

It’s not all mellow grooves though; the first track on the album, The Walker, brings in a distinct crisp modern edge on the lyrics side of things and Nothing is Written, a track around the mid section of the album, has a distinctly Eastern fusion flavour to it which I feel is certainly a new angle by the group but a foray which seems to have paid off.

It’s rare I find myself consistently impressed by a Jazz group’s offerings over a number of consecutive years but I do believe that Four80East are strongly bucking the trend. For fans who remember their sounds in the noughties I’d recommend checking out tracks from this album “Cashed Out” and “The Walker”, while those seeking something a little more up to date from the group will thoroughly enjoy “Sandbar” and “Gare Du Nord”.

A welcome addition to any jazz-head’s collection, a purchase of this album won’t disappoint.

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Confidential – Peter White

Peter White - ConfidentialPeter White’s Confidential is an album I have had in my collection for some time, and in fact I purchased it second hand. Before buying this album I had heard quite a bit of his music, but somehow this album is kind of special. I love music that tells stories, even if they are not true, and the best stories are the ones not just told in in song, but in a subtle way accross an entire album. I cite Alexander O’Neal’s “Hearsay” as a prime example (although a far cry from jazz and Peter White!). This album however is special, because it actualy contains a story in the inlay card, and the songs on the album relate to different parts through their titles (and if you are one to read things into music without words like me, the songs themselves relate to it too).

There are two songs on the album that have vocals, my favorite of the two, “She’s in love” is sung by Christopher Cross, an old favorite of mine; his musical talent most noted in his song sailing – on that still makes me feel amazing when listening to it to this day. The other vocal track “Lost without your love” is by a less known, but none the less brilliant artist David Sparkman.

The album is almost all smooth jazz, which given the story in the album is very appropriate. One notable exception on the album is the track “Jump on it” aired in fact on URY during my time there. It has a funky edge to it, and really makes you sit up compared with the rest of the album.

Peter White has a very special way of playing guitar, one that stands out, but none the less has subtle differences on every track, tempo and backing complementing it perfectly. It is also worth noting here that time spent does seem to relate to quality in this instance; the album took over a year to put together, and a lot of hard work not only from Peter, but from his entire team made it something really great.

If you like smoother music, or even if you are simply a fan of great guitar, this album is really worth a look. If you haven’t heard music from Peter White before, you are in for a treat. I do like the love aspect in many tracks, and will confess to owning a large number of love songs. Love in jazz however is something entirely different; most of the time you are not left with words to tell the story for you, so for you to like it it’s got to mean something to you. This album does exactly that for me.

If you own this album, please leave your own views in the comments as it would be good to know what others think about what is, I’m sure, my favorite Peter White album (I now own several!).

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The Best of… Lee Ritenour

The Best of... Lee Ritenour CD CoverWe all have opinions on “best of” albums but none the less we still pick them up in shops. For me I think it is the allure of being able to investigate music from an artist you know little about, not break the bank but still be able to enjoy the wide range of styles they inevitably have in their repertoire.Far from being new to the Jazz scene, Guitarist Lee Ritenour is well renowned in the world of Jazz guitar music and his music is often heard on many smooth jazz radio stations around the globe. His Best of… album brings together covers such as “Isn’t she lovely” with some of his own awesome creations “Captain Fingers” being my favorite example from the album.

As I have hinted his style is predominantly smooth jazz, but there are a couple of lively surprises on the album which awaken ones senses to the true skill of Lee’s work on the guitar. The enjoyable blend of jazz music on this album makes it well worth the money and of course an hour or so to sit down and lend it your ears, although on most tracks you cannot help but feel the style is reminisant of something you have heard before. You wouldn’t be wrong. Lee was one of the original members of the contemporary jazz groups Fourplay and only left the group in 1997 to branch out on his own.

His decision to branch out on his own was most probably the right one as far as my ears were concerned his experience and skill on guitar shines through in all his tracks giving you a unique sense of involvement in the music without being too imposing. I would definitely recommend this album to all fans of smoother music, but before you go out and part with your cash it is worth noting that the musical style of Lee Ritenour isn’t a straight out of the box affair and while this most certainly excites the ears of a smooth jazz aficionado like myself the clear variety of influences in his music may not be to everyone’s taste.

Rating: 3/5

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