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Ross Boissoneau - July 14th, 2005
If you‚re going to have a tribute to Earth, Wind and
Fire, who better to do it than those directly
associated with the band, along with some special
guests? Original keyboardist Larry Dunn and
multi-instrumentalists  Morris Pleasure and Sheldon
Reynolds, both longtime members, update „September,‰
„Can‚t Hide Love‰ and a host of other familiar fare.
Other EWF staples include Ronnie Laws, who played on
EWF‚s third album, „Last Days and Time,‰ and
contributes sax on „Can‚t Hide Love,‰ and guitarist
Johnny Graham, who recreates his rockin‚ soul solo on
„That‚s the Way of the World.‰ The mildly hip-hopped
versions don‚t necessarily bring a new dimension to
the proceedings; rather, they make you long for the
original. Interesting and engaging, but it needs a bit
of a kick.


Brian Bromberg ˆ Metal (Artistry Music)
Last year, Brian Bromberg had a jazz best-seller in
„Bobblehead,‰ but it‚s a safe bet nothing on „Metal‰
will find its way onto the smooth playlists. That‚s
because this is one of the hardest rocking shred
guitar albums ever, made even more noteworthy by the
fact there‚s not a guitar in sight. Bromberg plays all
the lead lines on his signature piccolo bass, while
filling in under, behind and around with 4-string,
5-string, and tenor basses, with accompaniment from
Joel Taylor on drums and occasionally Dan Siegel on
keys. The opening „Good Morning‰ is indeed a wakeup
call, while „Through The Window‰ continues in that
vein and „Carlos‰ is a winning power ballad. All
instrumental and all muscle, „Metal‰ proves Bromberg‚s
versatility and yes, indeed, his mettle.
 


Hiroshima ˆ Obon (ESL Music)
Japanese worldbeat smooth jazz? Well, yes. Hiroshima
goes further afield on this entirely instrumental
effort than in the past, with enjoyable results.
Matching ambient jazz beats with the likes of koto and
erhu sounds difficult, but the band pulls it off
without a hitch. Melodies come and go, floating atop
the synths of Kimo Cornwell and Dan Kuramoto, who also
plays saxes, flute, and shakuhachi (the notoriously
difficult bamboo flute). The opening „Swiss Ming‰ sets
the tone, but almost every tune contains the elements
that make this group unique. „Atomic Café‰ features
some soul guitar straight out of the 70s, percussion
beats and those crazy Asian instruments, all following
Dan Kuramoto‚s saxy lead lines. The lack of vocals is
actually a plus, as it focuses all attention on the
best songs the group has ever written.

Frances Black ˆ How High The Moon (Koch)
If she‚d eschew the annoying vibrato, Black could take
her place alongside Maire Brennan and others
celebrating Irish and Celtic music. Even with the
quavery voice, Black manages to capture the emotion
and bittersweet melodies that make the genre popular.
The opening „How Sweet The Tune,‰ the following
„Magdalen Laundry,‰ in fact, most every cut contains
the keening emotion and lyrics that define the best
traditional Irish music. But the instrumental
accompaniment is less inclined toward that tradition
than American pop music, with piano, bass, guitar and
strings supporting Black‚s soprano. The title track
features some sax and guitar reminiscent of John
Martyn, while in other places Black brings to mind
Linda Thompon. Not bad company.
 




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