It’s a fantastic thing to start your day off with a little vibrancy, especially one that will usher in a fun weekend, that makes it doubly so, and I can do this today by listening to and reviewing this sublime new Jazz release by Lunar Octet entitled Convergence.
Never could you find a better start to an album than with the upbeat and swing filled opus of Norm's Nambo. The brass driven masterful starting composition swings our ears into action, as we move around our metaphorical and musical dance floor, a brilliant beginning indeed.
Toote Suite and its brass construction was perfection in build and progression, this is exactly how I love my Jazz, full of passion, smooth and fluent, built around a cascade of instrumentation, and driven by sax; hats off to the classy creation by the outstanding Steve Hiltner, and the performance by Keaton Royer on piano.
Percussive cleverness can be found on the track Oye, through the medium of Bongos and Congas by Aron Kaufman, which glided us seamlessly into the arms of the next offering entitled Subway Tension, with its sultry Latin styled opening and into a city styled Jazz fest, the dark corners of the underground are felt here through a fine performance on guitar by Sam Clark, touching the hem of Carlos Santana at times.
There is enough fantastic material on this album alone to fill my Jazz playlists with magical Jazz music for months, this piece is destined for that, and called Mambossa. The bossa never sounded so good and felt so right, this has to be one of the most alluring and sensual pieces off the album, the smoothness of presentation here is amazing, as is the skill set of Brandon Cooper and once more Sam Clark, and of course Olman Piedra percussion, the rhythmic pulse of the piece was beyond colourful, and without doubt, outright enjoyable with each note played.
We move to Flugel Tune, thus giving the opportunity for both Hiltner and Cooper to shine, however there is one part of Jazz music that sometimes gets over looked, so when listening to this classy brassy offering, also pay attention to the bass of Jeff Dalton, he is absolutely top notch.
Anyone up for Dancin' in the Doghouse, this is one of the more ambient arrangements off the album, as we hit the half way mark of the release we have a rhythm driven opus, but one that is bathed in a smooth calmness all through the song, which makes it a delightfully sun-kissed, fun and light-hearted reverie to enjoy.
As we take the first step into the second half of the album we come across the curiously entitled Elephants. The flourishing piano of Keaton Royer here is some of the most inventive work I have heard for some time in this genre, it’s worked perfectly to introduce the main theme of the track, the piece then has a slow steady onward movement built within, and is simply one of those pieces that you just can’t help but love.
Time for a little something special on Samba Diabolico, the brass and drums were perfectly symbiotic here, as you would of course expect from a dance styled composition, but this offering had something even more deep within the weave, an addictive rhythm and a vibrant but controlled beat, one that brought a considerable amount of musical sunshine to the proceedings.
As we move forever onward we come across a track called Cruisin', this would be my personal favourite from the album. A big thanks for the performance on piano by Royer, he blissfully made me feel like taking a journey on the A Train once again. A beautifully delivered track, I would deeply enjoy watching this startlingly brilliant presentation performed live here in our Jazz clubs of Cyprus, an outstanding composition indeed, and a sublime all round great performance by the band.
So much within the realm of Jazz bands relies of the cumulative effort of all, and on the global fusion creation called Heart of Congatar, we have just that and more, listen to the overall collective input on this almost world music jazz vibe, its simply idyllic and extremely artistic in its endeavours, with perfection from all four corners of the outfit.
The talents of Steve Hiltner can be heard on this next composition entitled Until I Hear the Words, but also in the aspect of being the songs composer as well, this shows a wonderfully fluent and sensitive side to the artist and the band in general. This emotive arrangement is blissfully received by us ever eager listeners, and its rhythmic yet slower pace utterly enjoyed.
Oldavai Gorge summons forth an almost rock styled guitar opening from Clark, partnered with a full flowing piano on the penultimate track of the album. The multi-instrumental nature of this composition is sublime; I had to listen to it several times to completely enjoy each and every musical nuance set before me. This is another wonderfully elaborate and spectacular collective band effort, one that has everything any true music lover would wish to revel in, and I would imagine it would be another amazing arrangement to be seen performed live.
So we finish with something that falls over the musical landscape like a cloak of musical cleverness from Lunar Octet and entitled Samba Over Easy, a tip of the hat has to go to Jeff Dalton on bass for that opening segment of smiling profiling and styling, then the combined efforts from, and let’s get those mentions in now below:
Brandon Cooper, Trumpet and Flugelhorn supremo, and on my left Steve Hiltner, Alto Sax and Clarinet, the amazing talents of Paul Vornhagen on Tenor and Soprano Sax, and of course Alto Clarinet, the stylish skill set of Sam Clark on Guitar, lets mention the man on the keys, the incredible and adaptive mister Keaton Royer, the aforementioned Jeff Dalton part of the engine room of the team, along with Jon Krosnick on drums and Olman Piedra on percussion, lest we not forget the ever present and ever vibrant, mister Aron Kaufman on Congas and Bongos.
Convergence by Lunar Octet has to be one of the most excitingly fresh and rhythmically sublime Jazz releases I have heard for many years. Each and every track on this 14 piece offering is well performed, presented and produced, thus bringing the truly eager listener a wonderfully full flowing and exciting jazz album to enjoy, and it is without doubt one that I certainly will be more than happy to endorse.