2

RJ And The Assignment: Deceiving Eyes

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
RJ And The Assignment: Deceiving Eyes There are times when one comes across a relatively unknown talent or group, whose performance leaves quite a lasting impression, as does young pianist/songwriter RJ and his group, The Assignment. A native of Chicago who has performed throughout the country over the last fifteen years, RJ has since settled in Las Vegas, where his shining debut, Deceiving Eyes, was recorded. Though he boasts influences from Bill Evans and Chick Corea to Herbie Hancock, among others, RJ has also been comfortable performing in classical, R&B, funk and other non-jazz contexts.

This album is a remarkably well-constructed and unique interpretation of some jazz standards, blended together with a selection of originals and one hip-hop hit—all presented in a modern jazz style with a touch of R&B, hip-hop and Gospel influences. While playing in a quartet format, also featuring tenor saxophonist Julian Tanaka on two tracks, the majority of the eleven-piece repertoire is performed in a traditional piano trio setting, using seven players on different tracks and vocalist Jeanine Smith on the finale, "Where RU."

Accompanied by bassist Scott Teeple and drummer Paul Ringenbach on the first four pieces, the music starts tripping the light fantastic on Hancock's classic "Dolphin Dance," keeps swinging with Tanaka's saxophone lead on the original "I Took A Chance On Loving You," and continues to sizzle with RJ's dazzling performance on the M*A*S*H theme, "Suicide Is Painless." The pianist turns on the charm and displays his incredible chops on the keys with a blistering performance and brilliant treatment Frank Churchill's familiar "Someday My Prince Will Come."

The hard-driving, R&B texture of "New Beginnings" begins to usher in a new set of sounds delivered by the new crew of bassist Jason Bolden and drummer Terry Wesley II on the next five pieces. RJ and crew produce a groovy sound on Cedar Walton's "Bolivia" and are simply masterful on the original title track, but takes it one step further on Pharrell Williams' hip-hop hit, "Frontin,'" enhanced by Wesley's strong drumming and a slice of the keyboards sound. The set starts to wind down with more R&B sounds on the original "Winter In Chicago," and closes with the beautiful "Where R U," featuring RJ on keyboards and Smith briefly singing the song's name in the intro.

An obviously talented pianist and songwriter, RJ emerges from obscurity with his exciting debut, Deceiving Eyes, laying down the varied sounds of R&B and other genres with lush lyricism, all wrapped up in a modern styled jazz album that is, quite frankly, deceivingly good.

Track Listing: Dolphin Dance; I Took A Chance On Loving You; Suicide Is Painless; Someday My Prince Will Come; Total Praise; New Beginnings; Bolivia; Deceiving Eyes; Frontin'; Winter In Chicago; Where R U.

Personnel: RJ: piano, keyboards; Julian Tanaka: tenor saxophone (2, 7); Paul Ringenbach: drums (1-4); Terry Wesley II: drums (6, 8-11); Kenneth Logan: drums (7); Scott Teeple: acoustic bass (1-4); Mariko Kitada: acoustic bass (7); Jason Bolden: electric bass (6-11); Jeanine Smith: vocals (11).

Title: Deceiving Eyes | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "The Duo - Live!" CD/LP/Track Review The Duo - Live!
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 2, 2016
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "My Iris" CD/LP/Track Review My Iris
by Phil Barnes
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Forgive and Forget" CD/LP/Track Review Forgive and Forget
by Edward Blanco
Published: January 9, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.