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Meeco: Souvenirs Of Love

Dan Bilawsky By

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Meeco doesn't skimp on star power when he puts a record together. The personnel listings from his previous projects—Amargo Mel (Connector Records, 2009), Perfume E Caricias (Connector Records, 2010), and Beauty Of The Night (Connector Records, 2012)—read like the invite list for the NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony: Jazz elders—bassists Ron Carter and Buster Williams, flautist Hubert Laws, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, saxophonist Benny Golson, and pianist Kenny Barron, to name a few—joined in at one time or another, and younger leading lights—vibraphonist Stefon Harris, guitarist Lionel Loueke, and vocalist Gregory Porter—added their two cents. Now, with his fourth record, the producer/composer/conceptualist delivers another star-studded affair that's similar to his previous work in many ways, yet divergent in some respects.

Souvenirs Of Love is every bit as nostalgia-filled, starry-eyed, and romantically-inclined as its predecessors, but the style of delivery has shifted. The distinctly noirish vibe that Meeco projected through his last two albums has now been mutated: Mellow soul, hip hop, gospel, and R&B influences are part of the musical DNA of this one.

In reflecting on the end of a relationship, a move from Paris to Berlin, and finding new love, Meeco liberally mixes styles and musicians from different camps. Favorites from previous projects return, as Eddie Henderson adds muted allure, saxophonist Vincent Herring paints with controlled passion, and Buster Williams glues things together, but the real story is in the personnel changes. Eloisia, who provided attractively wispy vocals on some of the material on all three of Meeco's previous albums, is gone. Instead of finding a single singer to serve as central figure or muse here, Meeco simply went song by song to find the right voice(s) to fit each story. Mary Stallings provides some scene-setting spoken word vocals on the title track, Yahzarah shines brightly on "Make My Dreams Come True," Aaron Marcellus and Jean Baylor are smooth and mellow on "Every Day," Talib Kweli's brand of rap singing brings something completely unexpected on "Times Have Changed," and Casey Benjamin's vocoder adds to the neo-soul noir of "Your Eyes."

More often than not, Meeco's music is mood music that's shaped around the vocals, but that doesn't mean the instrumentalists don't have a chance to shine. Many of the aforementioned players, along with trumpeter Wallace Roney, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and several others, have the opportunity to spread their wings a bit and fly at one time or another on the well-crafted Souvenirs Of Love.

Track Listing: Souvenirs Of Love; Make My Dreams Come True; Every Day; Times Have Changed; If Only I Knew; Can't Get You Out Of My Mind; Paris At Night; Your Eyes; Words Of Love; For You; Farewell; Paris At Night-Instrumental; Your Eyes-Instrumental; Times Have Changed-Instrumental; If Only I Knew-Aiko Rohd Remix; Every Day-Aiko Rohd Remix.

Personnel: Mary Stallings: spoken word vocals; Vincent Herring: alto saxophone; Eric Reed: piano; Buster Williams: upright bass; Yahzarah: vocals; John Scofield: electric guitar; Bryan Smith: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, sub bass; Shedrick Mitchell: Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, piano; Richard Bona: electric bass; Victor Lewis: drums; Aaron Marcellus: vocals; Jean Baylor: vocals; Kirk Whalum: tenor saxophone; David "DJ" Ginyard: electric bass; Marcus Baylor: drums; Talib Kweli: vocals; Wallace Roney: trumpet; Dezron Douglas: upright bass; DJ Stylewarz: scratches and effects; Eddie Henderson: trumpet; Ingrid Arthur: vocals; Andy Roda: vocals; Wanja Janeva: vocals; Brad Allen Williams: electric guitar; Jermaine Parrish: drums; Alan Plummer: percussion; Casey Benjamin: vocoder; Lionel Loueke: guitar; Hubert Laws: alto flute; Rolo Rodriguez: percussion; Stefon Harris: vibraphone; Jacques Morelenbaum: cello;

Title: Souvenirs Of Love | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Challenge Records

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