Occassionaly a critic gets an Independent release and certain preconceived notions begin popping up even before the first listen.
I really need to stop that. Never judge a book or in this case compact disc by it's cover and looks can in deed be deceiving which brings us to the title of this Independent triumph, Deceiving Eyes.
RJ's debut release, Deceiving Eyes cuts a wide path of musical diversity and artistic freedom all with surprisingly exciting results. Standards, some hip-hop, and R&B pushes this release past the strictly jazz genre but tremendous jazz sensibilities are brought into each tune.
I have listened to at least a dozen other artists attempt the fusion of styles and genres and for the most part fail miserably in the attempt. RJ has a keen lyrical and harmonic sense of progression throughout each tune and one would he hard pressed to really find a bad one in the bunch. I often hold an Independent artist to a different standard much in the same fashion that as an Independent critic, I need to try and fill a niche not being filled by other on line publications. From straight ahead to contemporary jazz, RJ is as technically proficient and artistically as gifted as anyone attempting to work both sides of the street today.
RJ's prolific talents have afforded him the opportunity to work as a songwriter, arranger, composer and producer. The term "real deal" gets tossed around a great deal but in this context RJ gives the term true meaning with his own sense of style and musical purpose.
Standards include "Dolphin Dance" and "Someday My Prince Will Come" along with the theme from the television series M*A*S*H. Normally an artist attempting to cover such a wide sonic path is simply a train wreck waiting to happen. A tight band combines with RJ's vision to create a seamless ebb and flow in variety and texture without ever stripping his musical transmission.
An absolute winner! For more information www.rjandtheassignment.com
Tracks: Dolphin Dance; I Took A Chance On Loving You; Suicide Is Painless; Someday My Prince Will Come; Total Praise; New Beginnings; Bolivia; Deceiving Eyes; Frontin'; Winter In Chicago; Where RU.
Personnel: RJ: piano, keyboards; Julian Tanaka: sax; Scott Teeple: acoustic bass; Mariko Kitada: acoustic bass; Jason Bolden: electric bass; Kenneth Logan: drums; Jeanine Smith: vocals; Paul Ringenbach: drums; Terry Wesley II: drums; Jocelyn Winston: vocals.
Special Thanks to Jim at Jazz Promo Services!