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
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.