On his third independently produced recording, Nick Cuda extends the parameters of his music. On his first album, A Beautiful Woman, he took in vintage pop songs with a quartet; on his second, Guitar in the Window, he ventured into Latin jazz with a sextet. This time around, he brings a couple of rap singers along. He is adventurous, if nothing else.
Cuda has an ear for sprightly tunes and melodies that grab the ear. This comes off best on the title tune, the melody hooking in on the repeated opening riff and then going on to cast a spell as the percussion sashays in and Cuda cuts a sprightly path on the guitar. If the Spanish air on that tune tingled, his lissome playing on "Latin Ways" adds more lure as he mines the deep colours of the rhythm, which are given an added adjunct by Dick Smith's percussion.
"Riding On" is a strong ballad with some heartfelt singing from Adrian Breda. Its impressive pop sensibility is made all the better by the intertwining of the lead voice with Manuela's backup vocal. However, "A Beautiful Woman," the title track of Cuda's first album, to which he added words for this release, fails to ignite any sparks with its flit-by pop singing and uninspiring lyrics. At the end of it all, though, this album creates its own little nook of charm.
Nick Cuda: nylon string guitar; Andrew Downing: bass; Ben Riley: drums; Dick Smith of
Syncona: percussion; Danny Sustar: accordion; Adrian Breda: piano and vocals; Wyze
Wonder and Sham Star: lead rap vocals; Manuela: background vocals.