Vincent Lyn: Heaven Bound (2011)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Heaven Bound: indeed, what an appropriate choice of words to title pianist Vincent Lyn's project. The album is a wonderful collection of jazz, bossa nova, samba, Afro-Cuban rhythms and delicate classical interpretations. The fourteen-piece repertoire is an even blend of melody-rich originals and well-chosen, uncommon jazz standards. The music is engaging, sophisticated and highly pleasurable from start to finish, with no fillers, as every tune is a keeper and deserving of airplay consideration.
Lyn is an interesting professional, whose love for music does not really define the person behind it. Lyn is a martial arts experta Kung-Fu star and teacher with his own academya kickboxing champion, model and Hong Kong film star, with nineteen movies to his credit. But music has always been one of his first loves. and to that end Lyn honed his skills through studies at the renowned Boston Conservatory of Music, Yale University Music School and Manhattan School of Music.
The pianist's heavenly band is a sextet that brings Lyn's own Hamburg Steinway B piano and Kurzweil 88 Synthesizer alongside the sounds of a Gibson ES 175 guitar Fodera 6-string bass, saxophones and flute, percussion and, on several tracks, a vocalist. As a result, the mix produces quite an impressive sound engineered by a largely unheralded group of players.
The disc presents so many highlights that a limited appraisal of the album cannot possibly touch upon all. Oliver Nelson's classic "Stolen Moments" opens the disc, presenting the first of many Lyn solos after being set up by Joe Meo's sizzling tenor foray on this upbeat, groovy piece. "New York City Bossa" is a beautiful Brazilian vocal piece with Fernando Capela caressing the lyrics in Portuguese, as Lyn and guitarist Camila Meza provide delicate instrumental support. "Sintra" is the other percolating Brazilian vocal soundscape of the album.
The title piece offers one of the lighter moments, featuring Capela's sensitive performance, with Meza and Lyn's airy synthesizer lending a cushy background. "Gymnopedie No. 1" and "Gymnopedie Waltz" are gorgeous classical renditions with "Toccata In D Minor" and "Prelude In C# Minor OP.3, NO.2" rounding out the classical touches of the project .
With Capela singing the lyrics in English, and Meo applying a gentle tenor saxophone, Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower" blooms as one of the better treatments of this classic standard. Lyn weighs in with yet another masterful solo as he does throughout the recording, demonstrating beautiful technique and virtuoso talents.
Martial arts expert Vincent Lyn crafts a monster of an album with Heaven Bound , where his talents as a musician come to the forefront, kicking this album out of the park and on its way.
Track Listing: Stolen Moments; Old Croy; New York City Bossa; Heaven Bound; Gymnopedie No. 1; Gymnopedie Waltz; Sintra; A Funny Thing Just Happened; Nigerian Marketplace; Island Carnival; Toccata In D Minor; Tonight; Little Sunflower; Prelude In C# Minor OP. 3 No. 2.
Personnel: Vincent Lyn: piano, synthesizer; Camila Meza: guitars; Joe Meo: saxophones, flute; Joe Sanchez: bass; Gill Hawkins: drums; Urbano Sanchez:percussion; Fernanda Capela: vocals (3, 4, 7).
Record Label: Self Produced