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Robi Botos: Old Soul

Anya Wassenberg By

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Old Soul is a personal meditation wrapped up in a contemporary jazz album, offering complex yet accessible music with diverse influences that stem from Robi Botos' life story.

Pianist and multi-instrumentalist Robi Botos takes his core quartet of Seamus Blake on sax, Mike Downes on bass, and Larnell Lewis on drums through a collection of largely original tracks that revolve around themes of lost places and friends, new hope and optimism for the future.

"Old Soul," the title track, is his musical meditation on the Hungarian home he left behind in Budapest. The song is steeped in contemporary jazz as much as it borrows from classic Hungarian chords and melodies in its musical reflections of Budapest. It ranges from a jazz ensemble treatment to an intriguingly trippy solo on Harpejji. The Harpejji, made by Marcodi, is an offshoot of the electric guitar where you tap the 24 strings to make a sound. It adds an unexpected timbre to the song, and Botos' playing is fluid. The song includes inspiration from Romani and Hungarian folk music, among others, and its many sections reflect Botos' long and complicated journey from Hungary to North America.

"Praise" was inspired by Botos' memories of playing in church. As expected, it's a laid back and melodic track with the kind of satisfying chord resolutions of traditional church music -but here, with jazz phrasing and a few blue chords thrown into the mix. "Hope" showcases his skills on jazz piano with a side order of sax. The pianist explores musically and weaves varied influences into the song. Guests Cory Henry on the Hammond B3, Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, and Lionel Loueke on guitar join Botos for "Calhoun Square," his jazzy tribute to the late Prince.

Botos plays with the easy assurance of a jazz pianist at the top of his game, able to funk it down with a shimmering piano solo over a driving rhythm section and incorporate personal influences and reflections in solid jazz tracks.

Track Listing: Diamond; Budapest; Old Soul; Praise; Hope; Days of Wine and Roses; Calhoun Square; End of an Era (Bonus Track); A Time To Love (Bonus Track).

Personnel: Robi Botos: Piano; Seamus Blake: Saxophones; Mike Downes: Bass; Larnell Lewis: Drums; Cory Henry: Hammond B3 Organ; Ingrid Jensen: Turmpet; Lionel Loueke: Guitar; Drew Jurecka String Quartet.

Title: Old Soul | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: A440 Music

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