on 16 August 2010
A few weeks ago I reviewed "Diamonds" by Jonathan Fritzen and pronounced it smooth jazz album of 2010. In my review of his previous album, "VIP," I made the quote "move over Brian Culbertson, there's a new kid on the block."
I feel I must now eat my words because Brian Culbertson has come up with arguably the best album of the last 5 years and without a shadow of a doubt his best album ever.
He has been gradually moving away from the smooth jazz tag over his last couple of projects and now offers an album of diversity that incorporates funk, soul, new age, pop and of course smooth jazz.
The opening track featuring gogo maestro Chuck Brown would have been the best track on his last album "Bringing Back The Funk." We are then treated to guest vocalist Kenny Lattimore on "Another Love" and shortly afterwards guest vocalist Brian McKnight on "Out OnThe Floor." Now, as a lover of real soul music, I hate the dirge like R & B artists of the day but these two singers have successfully transcended that genre and are genuine bonafide soul singers with fantastic voices and credibility and acceptability within soul circles. There is a further vocal track, "Skies Wide Open," featuring Avant, who I am not familiar with but this is another great track, and the lead single. The final vocal offering "Don't You Know Me By Now" is the only track that has me reaching for the skip button.
And so to a clutch of fantastic instrumental tracks. The piano playing on "It's Time" is so powerful you half expect the instrument to bounce through your speakers! "Waiting For you" explores familiar smooth jazz territory, along with "That's Life" featuring Earl Klugh and "I Wanna Love You" featuring Ray Parker Jr, then there is "Forever" which starts off with a solo piano section. The album finishes with the semi instrumental new ageish "I Don't Know."
I cannot recommend this album enough. It is quite simply awesome
on 25 March 2011
Brian Culberton is a fairly new name to me. He has obviously (gleened from other reviews) spent quite a lot of his career making 'smooth jazz' which is a genre we all claim to hate but still secretly find ourselves tapping a toe to at airports, lifts etc.Similar to house music really! Cleary his niche is in 'jazz-funk' which is a term I personally find as repulsive as 'smooth jazz' in my own personal musical encyclopaedia.
What we have here is a nice album of contemporary jazz intertwined with some very soulful (the vocal cuts)and funky moments.His previous outing declared 'Bringing Back The Funk'and in parts this set continues to do just that. It is a very 'old school' album which for me at my age is quite enjoyable.Younger listeners might wonder what all the fuss is about but they would not appreciate that this album is based on musical skill over voice coders,filters and production tricks.
I feel that this album is overall quite a nice experience if just a little too dated in its delivery.The vocal tracks could/will all probably do well in any R'n' B chart and for me this is the dichotomy of this album; the playing and musician ship is superb but at times,like all elevator 'muzak' it is just lacking a little bit of edge and spark.Overall a nice felling of nostalgia but not quite strong enough to crossover into the commercial market.For a middle aged listener this is in my opinion quite a good thing but I personnaly preferred the previous funkier album!