Monday, June 11, 2012

Camera Soul Words Don't Speak Azzura Music 2012

There is a right way and a wrong way to use social media in the music industry. Social media is all about self promotion and probably the cheapest, fastest and most cost effective means of getting ones name in front of the public. I stumbled across Camera Soul while on twitter and here we are. I checked out the web site first and was amazed at the sound. While this ensemble is part of the sonic mother load I seem to have hit with artists from Italy, there is an intriguing hybrid of soul, jazz, blues and a touch of bossa for flavor. The sound is warm and open as that of a live studio recording. While this release could easily be cast in the smooth jazz pile of new releases, the error would be unforgivable. Aside from the lack of mind numbing "programming" that serves little but to cut down on musician payroll and aid the rhythmically challenged, vocalist Serena Brancale's vocals have an all most chameleon like effect in direct proportion to the sonic colors the band is painting from on each subsequent tune.

Originals have a natural organic flow while the tunes themselves are most contemporary winding up with a tune within a tune. This deceptively subtle approach taken by the band as musical collective adds texture and depth and absolutely unlimited cross-over appeal. The smoother side of jazz has struggled to find that new sound to help slide a wedge in the revolving door of smooth jazz stations either changing to a format that works or closing up shop entirely. "Again" opens up this release with a delightful soulful spin, lyrically solid and the pop of bassist Beppe Sequestro is spot on. The lyrical flow of a horn section that obviously listened to a Chicago record or two works as the sonic glue binging this marvelous septet together. Guitarist Francesco Palmitessa turns in a tasty solo and helps wrap this tune up nicely. A danceable cover to the Lionel Ritchie tune "Love Will Conquer All" breathes new life into a somewhat forgotten hit from yesterday. Drummer and percussionist Mimmo Campanale own the pocket while Serena Brancale's vocals work hand in glove with the guitar solo from Palmitessa, jazz sensibilities more on a more contemporary groove with an organic nuance that is hard to shake. "Bossanova" is the musical equivalent of the sexy little black dress, an air of mystery with a sexy back beat you feel with your hips and hear with your feat.

To call this release a retro soul or dance release from the late 1970's would be a gross over simplification. While certain genre roots are clearly unmistakable, what sets Word's Don't Speak apart would be the ingenious hybrid of soul, pop, and even a little disco but with more global jazz related sensibilities. In the hands of lesser talent this release could have easily died a self indulgent death in post production but instead we have a true working band that is dialed in to a lyrical sense of purpose. I have never bought into the notion of European jazz and still don't. What I buy into is a first call band that happens to be from Italy and is capable of creating their own sound with top notch engineering, production and above all performance.

A delightful change of pace and easily a 5 star release! Italy has proven once again to be my musical easy button.

Tracks: Again; Born To Be; Love Will Conquer All; All Dark; Bossanova; Miracles; I Am; Zigzags; Whereabouts; Suddenly.

Personnel: Serena Brancale: voice; Pippo Lombardo: keyboards; Francesco Palmitessa: guitar; Beppe Sequestro: bass; Mimmo Campanale: drums & percussion; Luca Toso: sax; Stefano Cavallin: trumpet.