MO PLEASURE: – Elements Of Pleasure
(US Watersign, 2004)
Only At Night - Together Again - Beyond The Stars - Peace - Lover's Groove - Bahia -
In The Stone - Summer Fling - Dancin' With You - Morocco - Patricia Elena - Tokyo Blue -
Now That I've Found You - Mars Mellows - We Are One - Nadia's Lullaby
Mo Pleasure is none other than Morris Pleasure of Earth, Wind & Fire fame along with
some very, very talented musicians and vocalists. Pleasure is definitely what is conjured up on this
superb jazz CD. It is a real, proper jazz outing with a smattering of soul to help broaden the appeal
even wider. The instrumentation is wonderfully live, vivacious and vibrant and at 16 tracks are
spoiled for choice. I do not think that any track on here really disappointed these ears.
Diversity is the order of the day, and we move from jazz, funk to soul with complete ease.
The level of musicianship is first rate with an army of talented musicians joining the fray.
Amongst the vast contingent we have included the likes of Michael White and Sonny Emory on drums,
Rohn Lawrence and Keith Robinson on guitar, Lenny Castro on percussion, Larry Dunn
on keys, Ronnie Garrett on bass, hotfoot from his work with Maysa; on sax we have
Jason Weber, Reggie Young on trombone and various vocal giants such as Wil Wheaton and
Jim Gilstrap on backing vocals.
There are some SUPERB vocal tracks that feature some serious heavyweight talents such as
Maxayn, B. David Whitworth, Philip Bailey, Peabo Bryson, Sheena Easton, Oleta Adams and
Michael McDonald. If this heady brew does nothing for you then you should be ashamed of
yourself! I cannot recommend enough the opening jazzy salvo, which is the instrumental funker
“Only At Night”, which perfectly kicking off a varied and energetic album in no uncertain terms.
The refined and saxy midtempo cut "Together Again" features the textured vocals of Maxayn.
This Lady is a new name to me - I think! - and all I can say is that she reminds me of a classier and
jazzier Mica Paris. Her vocal style perfectly fits in with the abundant musical rhythm
created by all musicians. This is quality time material without a doubt.
B. David Whitworth is a very passionate Latin vocalist in the vein of a huskier
Carmen Cuesta and her vocals ride the Afro Cuban rhythm expertly. This is a splendid
effort and oozes the essence of a balmy night in Cuba.
"Peace" is a warm, criminally short instrumental with some spine-tingling sounds courtesy of
Dave Torkanowsky. Give this man more that 45 seconds next time, please, Morris!!!
What a beautiful, spine-chilling interlude! Wow! I really want to hear more work like this.
The song, though, that originally attracted me to this CD on CD Baby was the KILLER ballad,
"Lover's Groove" which places Philip Bailey's unique vocals. This is of the highest
quality I assure you, and rates as one of the best vocal performances that Philip has given us
for years and years. What a wonderful song and what a wonderful singer!
More Latin a theme follows this with the crashing waves and percussion that is "Bahia".
Again this is all too short at just over a minute, but introduces us to a fantastic remake
of "In The Stone" which features Larry Dunn. What an Earth, Wind and Fire collaboration
this album is! It must be great having friends of this caliber!
Boney James is obviously another pal, and he adds his magic to the smooth semi-instrumental
"Summer Fling" which isn't a cover of the O'Jays classic but a new song. Maxayn and
Myra Walker add some delicious backing vocals to underpin Boney's sax and Reggie Young's trombone.
Our old friend, Wil Wheaton, adds his vocal skills along with Sheldon Reynolds and Julie Delgado
on the funky slow grinder, "Dancin' With You". One of these ladies sounds very much like
Shirley Jones it's unbelievable! The CTI-ish "Patricia Elena" features Maxayn and Jim Gilstrap
on vocals along with Michito Sanchez's percussion and is another very nice effort.
Guitarist Rohn Lawrence features on the atmospheric "Tokyo Blue" and makes it a very
memorable track, along with the whispery vocals and eerie synths. Our good friend, Maxayn,
returns with the sultry Maysa-ish "Now That I've Found You" and works well within the
echoed arrangement and tight harmonies. This is an atmospheric song and the sax is very
chilled and is very supportive. The style of "Mars Mellows" is straight back to the work of
Lenny White a la 1978's "Streamline" album - think "Spazmo Strikes Again" or even
"Bars From Mars" and this is what we have for just over a minute! I like it - its different
and quirly. Hey - I rather likes "Toys" by Virtu so there you have it!
The socially conscious "We Are One" is possibly my least favourite, but I definitely uphold the
sentiments completely. With the very short but sweet solo piano piece of "Nadia's Lullaby"
we round up what is possibly the most essential jazzy set of 2004. This proves that jazz can
still be made which is smooth yet textured, is varied and interesting and can appeal to wide
range of ears. This album should be very successful and I for one cannot rate it high enough.
Superb and essential.
- Barry Towler