PAUL HARDCASTLE / THE JAZZMASTERS: III
(US Hardcastle Records)
1) London In Springtime 2) Lost In Space 3) Ventura Highway 4) Nightcrawler 5) Don't Let It Get You Down 6) Starchild 7) Dreams 8) Trippin' Rhythm 9) New Dawn 10) Down So Low 11) Red Zone 12) Still Thinking 13) London Chimes
Want a sure-to-win jazz-fusion CD with plenty of room for soulful vocals, luxuriant grooves, stylish melodies and smooth jazz overtones? Look no further than this, Jazzmasters III, for a continuation of knockout, drop-dead songs from the keyboard maestro, Paul Hardcastle. Whereas some jazz sets loll from one samey song to the next in a grim of succession, this US released CD features 13 tracks which are all fresh, imaginative and are all yet so very, very complimentary.
For starters, Paul has chosen the superb vocalist Helen Rogers to weave her magic on a number of soulful songs that begin with London in Springtime which should be MASSIVE if there was a decent enough radio outlet for this material outside of either London or Manchester's specialist stations. With more of a trace of Martine Girault's Revival in the mix and Helen's inspired vocals, interlaced with expertly fused keyboards this truly is a classy track that really cuts to the chase. As far as vocals go, the dance groove of Don't Let It Get You Down is a sure-fire killer and gets the thumbs up as does the acoustic guitar fronted Down So Low, which is a real credit to the CD.
Still Thinking reminds me a touch of a Kazu Matsui moment from the 1980s and should fail to impress either, especially with the sax played by Snake Davis. Excellent stuff indeed, and is easily matched by Ventura Highway. Also, the cover of Stevie Nicks' hit Dreams is very soulfully reworked and works very well indeed. The instrumental compositions, such as Lost in Space and Starchild are really imaginative and are more than worth shouting about.
I would say that no one would be disappointed with this particular album, whether you are more jazz orientated or more soul orientated. Albums such as this are very welcome indeed, and I wish Paul every success with all his projects.
The review by Barry Towler exclusively for RECORD CORNER, which is one of the leading soul shops in the world. The review is not featured in our printed issue.
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