Onaje Allan Gumbs took his wide experiences as a musician into the studio for his latest recording and came up with a winning combination in Remember Their Innocence. There is strong testimony to his passion for jazz, just as there is for the blues, some soul, a Brazilian tune, and a bit of what is known as contemporary jazz. The last category is not watered down by the hose of blandness, instead elevated by the soulful Dennis Collins, whose remarkable voice on "Your Love" gives the lyrics a deep strength of emotion. Credit should also go to Gumbs. His arrangements get the best out of a song, witnessed here in his gentle accompaniment on the piano, the shimmering strings that waft from his synthesizer, and the bluesy harmonica of Gregoire Maret. On another strong performance, "Maybe NextYear," Branice McKenzie sings with a sensitivity, intonation, and eloquence that mark her as a fine exponent of jazz in song.
Plenty of good music comes along the mainstream. Gumbs brings swing into his "Healing Touch," first vented by Roger Byam on the soprano saxophone before he widens the sphere, kindling the flame with crisp abandon. On a softer note comes the beautifully modulated "Virgo Rising." The mood is tranquil, yet it has a refreshing crispness. And if that brings about its own resolution, so does "Sol Brilho (Sunshine of Dreams)," where the harbingers are the lilt of Roberto Lubambo's guitar and the swish of Café's percussion. The Brazilian rhythm is catchy and so is the melody, two aspects that make this a winner, further cemented when Sadao Watanabe comes in. He adds to the sway and when he begins his explorations, the song absolutely lights up.
Track Listing: Prologue; Healing Zone; Remember Their Innocence; Sol Brilho (Sunshine of Dreams); Innerchange; Maybe Next Year; All I Hear (Quiet Passion); Virgo Rising; Crystal Images; You Just Don't Know; Playtime; Shadowlight; Your Love; Epilogue.
Personnel: Onaje Allan Gumbs (piano, keyboards), Roger Byam (tenor and soprano saxophone), Kenny Davis (bass), Billy Kilson (drums), Larry Argese (acoustic guitar), Sadao Watanabee (alto saxophone), Romero Lubambo (acoustic guitar), Gregoire Maret (harmonica), Caf