Thursday, September 27, 2012

Native Soul One Mind American Showplace Music 2012

Native Soul is "for my money" one of the best kept secrets in jazz today. The third release which is a departure from the previous effort Soul Step which reached #18 on the national jazz charts, ventures into a more acoustic format with some incredibly inventive reharms of tunes from Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, and Lennon & McCartney along with some killer original tunes.

To be honest...every fiber of my being told me I would hate this release :30 seconds in. As a former radio announcer and having played one of the three previously mentioned artists once every 45 minutes for 4 years - you do math. It's not that I don't like the artists but much like spending quality time with my dad, there has to be something better to do... Once again preconceived notions and running out of coffee are a critics worst enemies. One Mind is an organic fusion of four voices coming together in a musical synergy seldom heard. Distinguishing a leader is impossible nor necessary. Peter Brainin is an extremely underrated talent as a saxophonist, Marcus McLaurine is a virtuoso on bass that doesn't get the credit he deserves along with Steve Johns on drums and one of the hottest pianists on the scene in Noah Haidu.

Drummer Steve Johns shows off his compositional skills with "Malinda." Braunin does his thing on soprano while Johns owns the pocket and plays with the old school finesse of a Max Roach. "Baby You're A Rich Man" is not an easy cover by any means. Native Soul dials it back and lets Brainin blow it out with a soul drenched solo along with some well placed comp work from Haidu which won me over about :30 seconds in. Shifting meter and dynamics on the fly the harmonic flavor exhibited here borders on addictive. "Dharma" is an original from bassist Marcus McLaurine and a perfectly placed tune with a deceptively subtle swing. McLaurine turns out a strong lyrical performance. A keen sense of melody permeates this release even when this formidable 4tet hit the changes and swing full on. Infectious fun...swing is indeed king on this tune. "It's You Or No One" screams for a great lyricist. A Noah Haidu original with a strong lyrical sense of self and vibrant harmonic color palette. Huge crossover potential on a tune that may not be finished, polished soul with attitude - you gotta dig it! "Overjoyed" may be one of my favorite melodies of all time and Native Soul tweaks the meter just a tad but they understand some melodies you just do not mess with. A perfect reharm of a classic pop tune with a strong solo from McLaurine. When you can cover pop tunes from some of the legends and do it without disrespecting the original or yourself then you nailed it!

Native Soul nails this...

This is that perfect hybrid somewhere between contemporary and straight ahead without sacrificing either. A virtually flawless release and definitely one of my best of 2012!

Tracks: The Gathering; So Amazing; Alone; Malinda; Pedal Down; Baby You're A Rich Man; Dharma; It's You Or No One; If You Don't Want Me (as much as I want you); Overjoyed.

Personnel: Peter Brainin: saxophones; Noah Haidu: piano; Marcus McLaurine: bass; Steve Johns: drums.