Jon Lucien made his first recording as a leader in 1970. This album is a reissue of one that was initially released in 1982 on the Precision label, but not widely distributed. In addition to singing, Lucien also plays a variety of instruments while he sings, I assume to keep his hands busy. Many of the tunes have a definite Caribbean beat to them including "Tender Love of Mine" and "How`Bout Tonight". Not surprising given that he was born in St. Thomas and has been elected to the Caribbean Hall of Fame.
One of the special elements of the CD is the grand instrumental backing. There is a rhythm section, piano, Rhodes piano, drums, lots of backup vocals, and other assorted Latin percussion, all augmented live in the studio by large symphony orchestras including the Chicago and London symphonies as well as the New York orchestra which is conducted by renowned jazz trombone player and arranger Billy Byers. Matters, therefore, get a bit busy from time to time. But miraculously, everything stays under control and it all manages to fit together very well. But with all this activity, Lucien's voice doesn't stand out all that well as it is subsumed into comings and goings of larger groups. One exception is a "I Like It" which Lucien delivers with a cocky hat tilted forward manner. Another is "Too Damn Hot" which has a high-spirited beat that will keep your toe tapping and your shoulders moving. If you like the rhythm of the Islands, Romantico is a must have.
Track Listing: Tender Love of Mine; I Like It; Together as One; Sempre Maria; How `Bout Tonight; Tell Me You Love Me; Takes More Than Words; Too Damn Hot
Personnel: Jon Lucien - Vocal/Fender Bass/Phodes Piano/Yamaha Grand Piano/Percussion/Mini Moog/Congas; Carlos Bega, James Gadson, Earl Palmer - Drums; Gloria Agostini - Harp; Angel Allende - Timbales; Steve Thornton - Percussion; Bill Byers, Michel Colombier, Richard Evans - Conductor; Josh Sklair, Oscar Castro Nevers - Guitar; Franchine Smith, JoAnn Brown - El, Cynthia White, Keithen Carter, Cinnamon - Backup Vocals; Larry Ball - Bass; Fred Jenkins, Clarence Charles, Dennis Budimir- Guitar; Gip Nobles - Rhodes Piano; Michael Melvoin/Aloisio Aguitar - Piano; Nana Vasconcelos - Talking Drums
The first jazz record I received
as a visiting gift from my
Japanese uncle at his
international division of
Toshiba EMI Tokyo was a
sample copy of Miles Davis'
Bitches Brew. A game
changer redirecting my
browsing habits and collection.