Onaje Allan Gumbs: Remember Their Innocence (2005)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
In our adult-denigrating society, I always cringe whenever I encounter an album that's "for the children." Like books in which the authors claim that part of the proceeds will be donated to charity, it's a certain bet that the there is some defect that the producers are hoping the patina of good will and charity will obviate and make "critic-proof." That is certainly the case here, for this album is a compilation of mostly banal smooth jazz ditties that dull the mind and disengage the spirit.
Gumbs is a talented pianist, to be sure, and I suspected that this CD was forced on him by the record label to attract some nonexistent "crossover" audience; however, since the Ejano label is run by the pianist himself, the damage appears to be self-inflicted. The best that can be said of the CD is that it has the feel of a second-rate Dave Grusin imitator.
Indeed, the title song, "Remember Their Innocence," featuring a melody doubled by single-line guitar and piano, I could have sworn was scene cutaway music from The Fabulous Baker Boys. There are a couple of nice tunes included, however, and the best of the lot is undoubtedly "Sol Brilho," a swinging samba featuring guitarist Romero Lumbambo of Trio da Paz and the ever reliable alto saxophonist Sadao Watanabe.
Other featured artists include Branice McKenzie, a serviceable singer who does a decent job on the torch song "Maybe Next Year" that has changes similar to those of "How Long Has This Been Going On?". Eddie Allen presents a nice straight-ahead trumpet solo on "Innerchange."
Track Listing: 1. Prologue; 2. Healing Zone 3. Remember Their Innocence 4. Sol Brilho (Sunshine of Dreams) 5. Innerchange 6. Maybe Next Year 7. All I Hear (Quiet Passion) 8. Virgo 9. Crystal Images 10. You Just Don't Know
11. Playtime 12. Shadowlight 13. Your Love 14. Epilogue
Personnel: Onaje Allan Gumbs, piano; Roger Byam, saxophone; Kenny Davis, bass; Billy Kilson, drums; Lenny Argese, guitar; Sadao Watanabe, alto saxophone; Romero Lumbambo, guitar; Gregoire Maret, harmonica; Cafe, percussion; Eddie Allen, trumpet; George Gray, drums; Branice McKenzie, vocals; Miriam Sullivan, bass, Sharrif Simmons, spoken word; Vince Ector, drums; Marcus McLaurine, bass; Dennis Collins, vocals
Record Label: Ejano Records