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The Soul Express Album of the Month

September 2003

Buy this album from our CD Shop

Note: Read the fresh interview with Jon Lucien from our issue 3/03
New: The complete album discography of Jon Lucien



(Sugar Apple, 2003)

Sunny Day - Love Me - Out Of This World - You're Sensational - Creole Lady - Best Is Yet To Come - Angel Eyes - Night & Day - Take Me Away - Dindi

"Live In NYC" is the third and final of our foray into the world of Jon Lucien. I have to hold my hands up and admit that I do not like particularly like live albums. Like Earth, Wind & Fire’s sets, though, this album is different. I rarely watch live performances or concerts on the TV. This is purely and simply as I know that for me at any rate, live needs to be LIVE. To stand there with your favourite artist straight ahead of you giving his / her all is such a wonderful experience. I have seen many people live in concert – and Jon Lucien is one of them. I caught him at London’s excellent "Jazz Café" almost exactly 7 years ago on May 18th 1996. He was astounding – and so too is this Live CD.
Some artists can perform in the studio, but their live performance sometimes does not come up to scratch. I have seen Keni Burke, Betty Wright, Phyllis Hyman, Leon Ware and Jon amongst many others and these performances have been spine tingling. I can, for those who have not had the pleasure of a live Jon Lucien gig, I can assure you that the gentleman is as good on stage as he is in the studio and if you get a chance to see him live then please do so. Jon's music is intelligent, passionate and multifaceted; it knows no boundaries and this is so important in looking at the man and the music as a whole. His performance is intensely captivating and you do feel as if he is sharing that wealth of his experience with you. Overlooked he may well be, but loved and adored he is and like the best kept secrets in the world many music fans are rightfully greedy and want to keep this talent to themselves, like the rainforests or the polar areas; not to be spoilt by man and commercialised beyond point of integrity.
Sometimes, the best and most special things in life have to be kept to yourself. Like most of the greatest musical talents in the soul / R&B, jazz circle some do say he is very much overlooked by the mainstream. His name, rather like Leon Ware, is uttered in hushed, revered tones. A new Jon Lucien CD is an event. Hence my excitement over these three delights.
Jon’s band from "Man From Paradise" appear with Lucien here in New York City and create a musical storm as refreshing as tropical rain in the heat of the day. If one pays little attention, one can almost forget this is live … this album comprises 10 tracks from his 30 year plus career and again points to the quality, consistency and talent of the man. How many artists can effortlessly perform their songs from over 3 decades with such continuity and freshness within the same breath.
Like the greatest and most talented (and yes, overlooked) in our genre the remit of their talent can be sorely tested and battered by time, fashion and even culture. Jon flicks these concerns aside and proves he is beyond all these trivia. "Sunny Day" kicks off the from the "Rashida" album from 1973, dropping tempo for "Love Me" from his CLASSIC 1991 Mercury set, "Listen Love".
"Out Of This World" could not be more aptly titled, and I admit is a new number to me – perhaps on his "Premonition" album that I still seek. Jon goes audience interactive with the monster Latin number "You’re Sensational", again from "Listen Love" and the my favourite song from "Song For My Lady", "Creole Lady".
If only Sony would release their 2 albums of Jon's … how many times do I have to email and get no response? Still, we literally get into a swing thing and more straight ahead than his other numbers with "Best Is Yet To Come" – showing how versatile Jon is. "Angel Eyes" is a really chilled out affair, and is shifted into third gear by an inspired reading of the classic standard "Night And Day". I guess "Listen Love" is a favourite album of Jon’s as it is mine – "Take Me Away" was a cream cut from that and this live version is a real treat and a fresh interpretation with the lively real instrumentation as opposed to the album which saw some programming.
To close the CD, the Antonio Carlos Jobim standard, "Dindi" is given a workout and is masterfully executed by this awesome singer and his unsurpassable band. "Until the next time..." so Jon closes … let us not have to wait long. Unmissable stuff. This man is more than an artist is…he is a piece of music history itself. - Barry Towler

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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