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Meeco: Beauty of the Night

Edward Blanco By

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Paris-based composer/producer Michael Christian Maier, alias Meeco, has never truly delivered a standard jazz album, preferring instead to craft musical projects that are creative, innovative and different from the rest, described as "neither classical nor jazz" (Jaques Morelenbaum). A follow-up to Perfume e Caricias (Connector, 2010), Beauty of the Night is Meeco's third disc and his most impressive project to date, certainly qualifying as a non-standard recording.

This enchanting recording captures romantic melodies and beautiful love songs on a two-CD set containing nineteen songs performed by an all-star cast of musicians and vocalists. YouTube tributes from members of the cast help describe the music best, from Brazilian singer Heloisa Fernandes, "magical"; drummer Victor Lewis, "from the heart"; legendary saxophonist Benny Golson, "different and unique"; and, finally, Stefon Harris' "melodies are alive and beautiful."

If this were a movie, it might qualify as an epic, but as an album it only measures up as a large scale production given the content and the extensive personnel. Meeco's love for the Brazilian genre is reflected on a host of songs which feature Brazilian artists such as guitarist Romero Lubambo, cellist Jaques Morelenbaum, vocalist Ze Manoel and Eloisa—who, besides singing, also contributes the lyrics on several pieces. An astute producer, Meeco not only calls upon the extraordinary talents of contemporary musicians like vibraphonist Harris, pianist Kenny Barron and guitarist Lionel Loueke for supporting instrumentals, he also assembles a group of veteran players who add star quality to the session.

Recorded in New York, Meeco brings together some icons and legends of jazz, each lending their enormous talent and reputation to the production. Among them: flautist Hubert Laws; trumpeter Eddie Henderson; clarinetist Bennie Maupin; bassist great Buster Williams; drummer Victor Lewis; and vocalist Freddy Cole. The material on the album is all new, each song possessing some romantic mood yet remaining individually distinct, with the second CD—a remix disc by brothers Marco and Robert Meister—adding a slight fusion texture to some of the songs.

Clearly the standout tune of the set goes to the instrumental version of the title track "Beleza da noite (Beauty of the Night)," featuring excellent contributions from Laws, Golson, Henderson, Barron, Lewis and Williams. The warm romantic melodies of Meeco's compositions reveal his affinity for love songs and the lighter side of jazz superbly captured on Beauty of the Night, an album designed for lovers.

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).

Title: Beauty of the Night | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Connector Records

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