When it comes to contemporary instrument jazz I make every effort to try and spotlight the significant portion of artists that are simply not getting the credit they deserve. Welcome Craig Sharmat! A true renaissance artist find Sharmat having contributed music to America's Most Wanted, writing children's books and of course his stellar solo career as a guitarist. Instead of the more predictable approach to his contemporary craft, Sharmat takes a more global view at music exploring a delightful array of world music with exotic textures and shading much in keeping the dynamic cover art pictured above.
We do have some familiar faces pop up on this incredibly inventive release. Rick Braun has trumpet / flugelhorn will travel as Sharmat is your sonic tour guide from a musical profile that kicks off in New York City and closes out in Brasil with stops in Paris and Mumbai along the way. The world music influence is played off perfectly as Peter White makes an appearance on of all things - the accordion! Percussion wizard Luis Conte plays an integral part in helping merge the international flavor into a seamless transition of texture and dynamics rarely heard in this format. No covers and no obtuse vocals spoil the journey as Sharmat wrote original compositions with the help of keyboard player Greg Manning and a new shooter (for American audiences) in soprano sax player Farzin Farhadi.
"Manhattan Morning" opens the journey with Sharmat introducing the uninitiated to the harp guitar and this jazz nasty captures the funk-a-licious groove that is synonymous with the Big Apple. Mark Hollingsworth turns out a delightful performance on saxophone along with Rick Braun on trumpet. The flavor produced by the harp guitar is spot on and refreshing. A sonic shower for the heart and soul of contemporary fans everywhere. "My Gypsy Heart" keeps an acoustic flavor moving with a deceptively subtle nod to the Gypsy jazz movement which is as viable today as it ever has been. Finding a bad tune here is next to impossible. "Mumbai Mojo" features Sharmat on harp guitar, electric sitar, keyboards and programming with Rick Braun holding down the trumpet chair nicely.
Bleu Horizons is proof positive that Craig Sharmat is as technically proficient and as artistically as gifted as any six string shooter on the scene today. This is the future of modern contemporary instrumental jazz as the cookie cutter approach is tossed out the window and creativity reigns supreme.
Tracks: First Stop - New York City; Manhattan Morning; Next Stop - Paris; A Day In Paris; La Seine Strut; My Gypsy Heart; Next Stop: Mumbai; Mumbai Mojo; Surfing The Caspian Sea; Next Stop - Rio; Sol E Oceano; Agua Do Brasil; Ja'waii; Last Stop - America; Open Plains.
Personnel: Craig Sharmat: harp guitar, keyboards, programming, electric sitar, vocal melody, oud; Greg Manning: keyboards; Rayford Griffin: drums; Hussain Jiffry: bass; Luis Conte: percussion; Mark Hollingsworth: saxes; Rick Braun: trumpet, flugelhorn; Peter White: accordion; Benedikt Breyden: violin; Dan Lutz: acoustic bass; Farzin Farhadi: soprano saxophone; Steve Billman: bass.