Meeco: Beauty of the Night (2012)
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While danger, intrigue and excitement are often born beneath a silvery moon, love, loss and regret seem to come first to Meeco's mind when his thoughts turn to the night. The Paris-based composer/producer gathered what can only be described as a dream team of jazz's crème de la crème to help him bring life to eight of his sensitive compositions on this, his third album.
The concept behind Meeco's music, which deals in whispering, pensive Euro-Brazilian sounds, has been fairly consistent from record to record, but the execution has gotten better with each release. While Meeco mixes and matches his world class cast members, placing each musician in the right setting, he wisely keeps some constants. Bassist Buster Williams, drummer Victor Lewis and pianist Kenny Barron are at the heart of nearly every song, helping to create music that envelops and seduces, while Eloisia's charming vocals float across seven of the eight album tracks.
The rest of the musicians come and go, but they make their presence felt while they're in the mix. Vibraphonist Stefon Harris and bass clarinetist Bennie Maupin magnify the sadness and regret of "Refrao De Amor" during their respective solos, while guitarist Romero Lubambo sets the song in motion with his understated guitar work. Eddie Henderson brings his Miles Davis-like muted trumpet work to bear on two tracks, saxophonist Benny Golson delivers gorgeous tenor solos on a pair of pieces, and cellist Jaques Morelenbaum brings added weight to half of the songs on the album. Morelenbaum provides cello arrangements that thicken the group sound and/or shadow the vocalists without any sense of intrusiveness and Hubert Laws' alto flute, likewise, enhances the overall warmth found within the music.
While Eloisia's vocals tie the seven vocal numbers together, a long list of guest singers, given an appearance a piece, help to embed different emotions within individual tracks. Freddy Cole's voice resonates deeply and Lionel Loueke is disarming with his unique, unpretentious delivery. Ze Manoel's singing blends best with Eloisia's voice, while Joe Bataan's vibrato-heavy phrase endings tend to detract from the overall mood of the music, breaking the spell that's been cast, but the large majority of the guests are welcome additions, as they give a more well-rounded picture of the possibilities that live within Meeco's music.
A second CD takes Meeco's work out of the night time air and into the night club, as Marco and Robert Meister deliver eleven remixes that are alternately suitable for the dance floor or a mellow, back room environment. The gentler, ethereal tracks, like "Luzes De Flores (Remix Short Version)" or "Amor E Encantos (Remix Short Version)," tend to uphold Meeco's vision better than some of the more insistent, rhythm-driven remixes, but part of the beauty here is in the art of discovery.
The second CD makes for a fun listen, but it's more of a bonus than a necessity. The eight performances on disc one properly frame the beauty of the night, as they come together to form a single, misty masterpiece.
Track Listing: Refrao de Amor (Chorus of Love); Gotas de Adeus (Tears of Farewell); Luzes de Flores (Lights of Flowers); Amor e Encantos (Love and Delights); Refrao de Amor (Sad Guy); No Fundo do Teu Silencio (In the Depth of Your Silence); Ombres et Lumieres (Shadows and Lights)/Nua Solidao (Bare Solitude); Beleza da Noite (Beauty of the Night).
Personnel: Eloisia: vocals (1-7); Freddy Cole: vocals (2); Zé Manoel: vocals (4); Joe Bataan: vocals: (5); Gregory Porter: vocals (6); Jane Birkin: vocals (7); Hubert Laws: alto flute (4, 7, 8); Eddie Henderson: trumpet (2, 6, 8); Benny Golson: tenor saxophone (2, 8); Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet (1, 5); Kenny Barron: piano (2-4, 6-8); Lionel Loueke: guitar, vocals (3); Romero Lubambo: guitar (1, 5); Stefon Harris: vibraphone (1, 5); Jaques Morelenbaum: cello (2, 4, 5, 7); Buster Williams: bass (1-8); Victor Lewis: drums (1-3, 5, 7, 8).
Record Label: Connector Records