With an international resume that includes touring with Mary Jane Girls Maxi & Cheri and successful collaborations with Serbian producer RobyR, it’s no surprise that multi-lingual, neo-soul/dance/pop/jazz singer/songwriter, producer, arranger and recording artist AngeliqueMusic, brings such a widely appealing, eclectic, romantic yet at times socio-politically charged aesthetic to her alternately sensually romantic, danceable, funky and uber-exotic 4th album, IT STARTED WITH A KISS. While centering on her infectious, easy-grooving and heartfelt R&B sparkle and twinkle – including buoyant originals featuring French language and a Serbian rap – the singer throws down extra dazzling adventurous treats with re-imaginings of classic tracks by Stevie Wonder, Larry Graham and jazz/hip-hop mashup of Bobby Womack and Ice Cube.
If you hear a gleeful familiarity listening to former HR Exec turned urban jazz vocal sensation Castella’s long awaited second EP LET ME LOVE YOU, it’s with good reason. Produced by longtime collaborators Jeff Canady and Darryl Swann, the five-track set gathers the sensual jazz/R&B vibing artist’s irresistible recent smash singles “Let Me Love You,” the chart-topping “So Glad I Met You,” and the retitled funkified jam “It’s On Right Now” and includes a sexy, blues-tinged spin on the 70’s Atlanta Rhythm Section classic, “So Into You,” and a jazz standard tailor made for her distinctly sensual voice.
A quarter century after Seal took his mystical funk version of “Fly Like An Eagle” to the Top Ten on Billboard’s Hot 100, veteran trumpeter Michael C. Lewis – whose vast performance resumé includes Hank Crawford, Gregory Porter, Patti Labelle and Kirk Whalum – creates the definitive instrumental version of Steve Miller’s 1976 classic. Discovering its bluesy roots, uncovering its gritty funk possibilities, and taking it to rarefied atmospheric levels, Lewis shines his bright, soaring tone over the groove intensive foundation of Gerald Trottman (piano), Freddie Fox (guitar), Poogie Bell (drums) and Cornelius Perry (bass) – then shifts cleverly to muted horn for the track’s improvisational solo.
While the title of Art Ruprecht’s 3rd album A LOVE SUBLIME offers a fond wink to John Coltrane, much more representative of the guitarist and multi-instrumentalist’s dynamic vibe and adventurous sonic aesthetic is the guitar-violin duality (with both instruments played by Ruprecht!) on the bright, funky mid-tempo opening track, "Saving Grace," the project's current single. The collection is reflective of influences that include Joe Pass, George Benson, Stephane Grapelli and Jean-Luc Ponty – and a remnant from his earlier days playing bluegrass. The first compelling track lays the foundation for a keenly melodic, rhythmically expansive set featuring dazzling solos by saxophonist Tim Cunningham and fresh twists on a hit gospel tune by Kirk Franklin and a beautiful jazz standard.
Talk about a happy, productive retirement! In addition to spending time with his eight grandkids, acting and filmmaking, the Northeast Texas native continues to build his legacy as a rock, soul and jazz influenced bassist, guitarist, composer and producer with his perfectly titled 5th album RETRO. He draws from a rich array of life experiences to create a fresh and adventurous aural autobiography. With his fluid and funky, super-melodic guitar front and center, Sirls artfully brings his past, present and future state of mind, musical and otherwise, to a tightly rhythmic, sonically inventive peak, rich with spirited string modulations, wild synth runs, sassy horns and extra-dimensional atmospheres.