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The Soul Express Album of the Month

August 2003

Note: Read the fresh interview with Impromp2 from our issue 3/2003!


US BIG3 Records, 2003

1. When Will Things Change?
2. The Definition Of Love
3. I'll Do Whatever
4. Drama
5. Mocha Soul
6. Is It Cool?
7. Without You
8. Bring It Back
9. All The Woman
10. Makin' Love
11. Who Am I?
12. Change Comin'

What did I say about 2003? Every week has seen more and more quality releases and now we can add Impromp2's "Definition Of Love" to the already increasing number in our 2003 winner’s circle! Impromp2 have been away for too long and their return has brought us another top-drawer essential album for lovers of quality soul. I had heard a lot of this CD from quality radio and for some time it was stated by the DJ that this magnificent album may never be released. However, this is NOT the case – this was always scheduled to be released this summer, folks and there you are! This CD which hits the streets on August 5th is right back in the pocket of their first MoJazz album, "You’re Gonna Love It". This is not surprising as they are reunited with Scotland’s very own Steve Harvey which is just what the doctor ordered, and the trio are also joined by a plethora of amazing talent such as Wah Wah Watson, Ray Parker, Jr, Al McKay, Dean Parks, Freddy Washington, Benjamin Wright, Boney James George Duke! As well as Steve Harvey, production comes from Austrian producer, Bernhard Penzias and bassist / producer Freddie Washington. Now that’s what I call full support!
So what are the guys about now after a gap of 6 years? Their slogan is: "When you play Impromp2 what’s bumpin’ in your trunk? Hip Hop, Jazz and Old School Funk". Well, for me there is much more of jazz and funk than of Hip-Hop as such, and something else is heavily present which is missed out of their slogan: SOUL. Of that there is abundance. The Marvin Gaye inspired vocal of Johnny Britt is, as expected, second to none and is velveteen on all styles of music fused on this album. As far as rap per se goes this is best described as jazzy scat rap and I hear echoes of Michael Franks’ phrasing in the lyrics too – which for me is definitely a plus.
There is not one track on this album that I do not like, but some songs do stand slightly taller than others. The album is about love, life, it is socially conscious and moreover it is fun, and is serious about the groove – and within a number of songs it is clear they want to "get the groove back". Yes, fellas, we certainly do too, and this scribe firmly applauds their grand efforts in doing just that!
I could go on and on ad infinitum about the merits of each track but as space is limited I won't. As usual I will wheedle out my clear winners instead!!! First is the AWESOME remake of "I’ll Do Whatever" which is stunning – this time the groove is more downbeat, relaxed and utilises real instruments and lush orchestration. This is not better than the original in my opinion – it is simply a fantastic remake that doesn’t make the original any less essential. Kim Fields is a fine young Lady who is an actress / poetess and is a special guest on the first single, "Mocha Soul", and adds some very, very sexy vocals over a cleverly utilised Lonnie Liston Smith sample ("Bridge Through Time"). This alluring poetess invites us to have a "taste of her love" and Sean’s cool laid back rap and vocals yearn for a taste. I admit that I wouldn’t mind a nibble either, and between Kim Fields and Simone Howe from Leon Ware’s latest CD I am sure to get into serious trouble with my other half!!!
There is a Jill Scott connection here as the producers are no less than Keith Peltzer and Darren Henson. Moving quickly onto the orchestrated number, "Is It Cool" which was produced by Bernhard Penzias and Freddie Washington again, we have here a very soulful recording with George Duke tinkling the Fender Rhodes and fans of Mr. Duke and especially his work on "Is Love Enough" will count this as a clear highlight. The Penzias produced jazzy, sexy hi-hat filled floater "Bring It Back" features the sublime trumpet work of Johnny Britt and sax from Boney James is a definite summertime tune to chill you out on those hot, sultry nights. They ask, "what ever happened to romance?" and state "its time to bring it back". With the one you love sat by your side there is a definite chance this song will not only rekindle passion but also set the setee on fire!
The final 2 cuts on this CD pay homage to the funky fusion style of the 70s. The wah-wah guitar and Mizzell Brothers vibe of the semi-rapped "Who Am I?" will astound and prove if proof be needed at all that only the Americans can deliver authentic soul and jazz. These songs kick other more wishy-washy efforts to the kerb big style and then some! Take the last song for example. This song, "Change Comin’", produced by, Bernhard Penzias and Freddie Washington is a heady brew indeed. Hark back to Donald Byrd’ "Places And Spaces" album, the sound of the Mizell Brothers on their Sky High productions, and also Norman Whitfield’s funky early 70s servings and you will understand that this is AWESOME. This infusion is a potent mix: a funky instrumental complete with hand-claps, shouts and banter which you will find on any number of CLASSIC 70s Funk albums. The sound is not copied, synthesised or hashed – Impromp2 must have borrowed a TARDIS and zipped back to 1975 and recorded it then! I can almost see them now!
This is an album of classic retro-cum-modern groove, real instruments, love, fun and social awareness. It is a classy album, equal to their best performances and must not be overlooked. One of the best releases of 2003 without a doubt. MANDATORY.

Other Albums of the Month in 2003
Albums of the Month in 2002
Albums of the Month in 2001
Albums of the Month in 2000
Albums of the Month in 1999
Albums of the Month in 1998
Albums of the Month in 1997

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