Jazzhole - Circle Of The Sun
3 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 21, 2003
Review by Tony BonyataBlending avant garde musings, Latin rumblings and ever so slight hip-hop undercurrents onto a canvas of urban jazz, the New York-based band Jazzhole have just released their fourth studio recording entitled Circle Of The Sun.
Led by founding members Warren Rosenstein, Marlon Saunders and John Pondel, Jazzhole once again revisits the inner city melting pot of different musical styles that they've laid down in the past. But on Circle Of The Sun they've slightly toned down their hip-hop and acid jazz shadings in favor of light Boss Nova rhythms and soulful R&B deliveries.
The band's artistry works best when they're mixing in ambient electronica behind silky vocals, that at times, as on the hip "Ndolo," hints at Sade on a date with Brian Eno, or when they lock into a funky jazz groove and soulful R&B vocals on "Who Do You Love?" Two of the more interesting songs also tackled here are seemingly unlikely candidates for a jazz act to cover. On Leon Russell's "Superstar" newcomer Kaissa Doumbe delivers a sensual vocal delivery in her native Duala tongue for intoxicating results, while Naren Budhakar's tabla along with Doumbe's once-again inviting vocals turn Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence" into a sexy, late night urban mating call.
Despite an arsenal of talented percussionists, the only complaint here, however, is that they're never fully left to their only devices. Instead of letting the rhythms drive many of the numbers throughout, they are used either to merely back a melody or mildly hint at World Music influences without fully embracing them. Had Jazzhole used the rhythms to propel, at least, a few of the numbers on this album it would have added a welcoming texture, as well as offering a reason to pull the satin sheets back and get your feet moving. Still Circle Of The Sun is a cool, laid-back addition to not only Jazzhole's catalog but the world of nu-jazz as well.
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