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Once in a while, listening to a new CD can persuade you to take a long look in the mirror and think things over. Sometimes music's more than just an art to enjoy whenever the moment suits you, it can also transform into a conveyor of long forgotten sentiments and peel down the callus wrapped around one's soul.
This is absolutely the case when you listen to guitarist/vocalist Stephen Bishop's Saudade. To put in the perspective of a time frame, it's a little over thirty years since Bishop's debut album, Careless, made it to the charts. Hits like "On and On and "Save It For A Rainy Day could be heard daily on AM and FM radio and are still tickling the airwaves today. To now experience these and other familiar songs, arranged by Brazilian guitarist and producer Oscar Castro-Neves, is mind-blowing. Not only has Bishop's distinctive easy-going voice stood the test of time, the Brazilian mood of Saudade, performed by a wonderful ensemble of esteemed musicians, makes you wonder about where to look for the thin line between pop, jazz and easy listening. Especially since Bishop's done it before: he recorded and worked with some of the best available in the industry for Careless (ABC, 1976), Bish (ABC, 1978) and Red Cab To Manhattan (WB Records, 1980). Anyone would be proud to have names like these in their Rolodex: John Guerin, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Andrew Gold, Art Garfunkel, Chaka Khan, Nathalie Cole, Ray Brown, Tommy LiPuma, Mike Mainieri, Don Grolnick, Victor Feldman.
Bish, as his loyal fans like to call him, offers six "classic and six new compositions on Saudade. Bassist Brian Bromberg's brief introduction paves the way for the opener, "Under The Jamaican Moon, co-written with Leah Kunkel (wife of drummer Russ Kunkel and sister of legendary Mama Cass Elliot), who recorded it for her debut album in 1979. Real romantic is the duet with Luciana Souza on "Un Baile Del Corazon, also featuring Earl Klugh on guitar.
One of Bishop's remarkable aptitudes is how he reaches deep within in just a single stroke, without having to use force. Therefore I gladly knight him The Troubadour Of Soulitude and invite you to take the journey inside.
Track Listing: Under The Jamaican Moon; On And On; Hello; Un Baile Del Corazon; Save It For A Rainy Day; Never Letting Go; Bish's Hideway; Annalia; Take This Empty Heart; One More Night; Separate Lives; New York In The Fifties.
Personnel: Stephen Bishop: vocals, guitar; Oscar Castro-Neves: guitars, keyboards, samplers; Don Grusin: piano, keyboards; Alex Acuna: drums; Brian Bromberg: bass; Kevin Ricard: percussion; Gary Meek: woodwinds, saxes; Eric Clapton: acoustic steel guitar solo; Kenny Rankin: background vocals; Earl Klugh: guitar solo; Luciana Souza: guest vocals; Charlotte Gibson: backing vocals.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.