Charles Fambrough: Upright Citizen
This album has got to be the find of the year by my good friend and fellow soul mate MaryJo Rathbun who is the Traffic Manager at the leading Smooth Jazz station in Providence, USA, namely WKCD 107.7 FM. This is one of the stunning albums which appear out of thin air every once and a while à la Urban Knights or Daniel Ho and Kileaue's ' Tropical Pleasures ' sets.
The list of stars is impressive for an artists who I was unaware of before now. Charles Fambrough's contribution as a bassist doesn't become too apparent on this album but the overall quality of the set makes this an unmissable item in your collection. Miss it at your peril...
The opening cut ' Main Street ' features a typical Grover lead sax sound which we all love, whilst ' In stride ' is a beautiful, mystical and sultry soprano sax smoocher which is typical of the keyboardist George Duke on his late seventies and early eighties sets like ' Straight from the heart ' and ' Brazilian love affair ', few will forget his beautiful ' Corrine ' and this track comes very close.
' D's song ' is not the Maze classic but a blend of soprano sax and piano led smooth jazz cruiser drifting along like the clouds on a warm day. Remember Pieces of a Dream's ' Warm Weather ' and you conjure the flavour.
' It's not easy having fun ' continues in the ' not to be hurried ' mood with Grover's sax drifting on Charles' bass line with George Duke's intricate Fender Rhodes chord sequences blending like a well oiled machine moving effortless and without fuss along the tracks. George's grand piano solo makes this unmissable as is the case with all of this wonderful album.
Gerald Albright imparts a harder sax sound on the mid-tempo groover ' Fun City ' which has lots of sax appeal. Mr. Duke joins the fun with his own style of keyboarding when he uses the tone bender on the keys to great effect. This has all the trade marks of a Duke sound and lends to the overall dynamics of this album.
' Disguises ' and ' Down the way ' continue on the smooth jazz sound making this album easy on the ears but all too short in its length. Unfortunately it is time to part with the laser and the album's killer cut is left as a farewell until the next outing. John Lucien's golden voice is added to the overall brilliance of this debut set by Charles on ' Bright eyes ' which has nothing to do with Rabbits, Watership Down or Art Garfunkel but a beautiful ballad tastefully sung by the Carribean's own Lou Rawls. The vocal is supported by Grover and George on what is sure to make you melt on even the coldest day of winter.
I have heard many albums in 1997 but this set is by far the best of the pile, and I can recommend it very highly to any contemporary jazz fans who might be looking for a romantic CD. Charles Fambrough is a name we will all be hearing much more of in the coming years.
10 outa 10
Track 9 - Bright Eyes
Record Label: Nu Groove Records