Having seen Omar guesting with Mario Biondi at the Albert Hall for tracks from Sun
, it was evident that "the Man" was back on top form. Further airplay on Jazz FM has confirmed the quality of the album and it has been one of the albums of Summer 2013.
Omar often turns up at Jazz festivals and seems to hang out with Jazz musicians, although the music he creates is more often characterised as Soul or R & B. For me, the most interesting tracks on this album are those where he collaborates with other musicians - like on the title track where he brings in the well-known UK Sax player Ben Castle, a bandleader in his own right.
There are also collaborations with two of the best UK bass guitarists around, in Stuart Zender (ex-Jamiroquai) and Pino Palladino(...that bass line for Paul Young on "Wherever I lay my hat"). "High Heels" features the Hidden Jazz Quartet and horn players grace most tracks - but it's not really Jazz territory, except in the extended vocabulary of chords that Omar uses.
The album is definitely focused on tight song structures - all originals - and nearly all by Omar himself with the odd co-credit. All are groove-based and there are nods to his parents' Jamaican origins - like on "Bully" - but most fit into genres that are usually described as 'urban'. There is a great sense of integrity in the music and lyrics - Omar isn't courting fame - he is producing the music he likes and collaborating with the musicians he likes - he is his own man. Maybe why the album title is so apt?
This is music that is diverse, but unique maybe to this time and place - the multicultural musical landscape of London and places like the Jazz Cafe. There are maybe links to Incognito and the Brand New Heavies, but Omar is distinctive and darker in his lyrical content and deeper into Jazz influences. Certainly worth a listen.