A global music excursion taking the harmonic road less traveled, a release of balance and depth!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Can we be honest? Most global fusion bands crash and burn thanks to either becoming too bogged down with cultural influences or simply the lack of some decent charts. United Shades of Artistry celebrates the Eastern European roots of pianist and composer Levon Mikaelian while also pulling from Latin and African music and rhythmic structure for a decidedly fresh presentation that so many artists have attempted yet with minimal success.
Trumpet legend Randy Brecker is featured on "Cloudy Minds" while saxophone ace Gary Thomas makes significant contributions on four others including the Armenian folk song "Hop-Hop." The emotive ballad "I Love You More" along with the harmonic evolution of "Shades" are perhaps the jewels in this melodic crown of lyrical bliss and the tune is seeming deconstructed and rebuilt with deceptively subtle shades of nuanced flavor.
Pianist Mikaelian has the skills necessary to literally cover the phone book yet assembles a release that has a laser like focus yet the spontaneity of a live show. For a debut release, this is an impressive first step in what should be a lengthy and highly successful career!
Tracks: Cloudy Minds; Shorora; Shades; Speak No Word; The Story Teller; Davismile; Hop-Hop; I Love You More.
Personnel: Levon Mikaelian: Composer, Band Leader, Piano, Rhodes, Vocals, Producer; John Lee: Acoustic and Electric Guitar; Tosin Aribisala.
5 Stars...Any debut release from a pianist that stays away from predictable covers is a winner!