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Kiku Collins — Red Light

July 15, 2011

An interesting blend of jazz/blues polish and sass is what we have here from trumpeter/vocalist Kiku Collins on her latest project, Red Light.

The former Beyonce trumpet player who’s worked with the likes of Michael Bolton and Jill Scott has a style as sexy and smooth as silk and as authentic as her persona.

Using great phrasing and arrangements, the music presented here–the vast majority of which was co-written by Collins–is a combination of sweet, sexy, and “come hither” sensuality (listen to “Tag Play” for a good example) and funky, enflamed groove (e.g.,  “Come My Way” – check out bassist Malcolm Gold’s work while you’re here).

Take a walk on the blues side as the sexy lady treats us to the title track with all the sultriness expected in a song bearing that title, and check out the adeptness of pianist Xavier Davis and the magnificent guest sax work of Michael Lington.

This material has body, melody, and presence. When you listen to the tenderness of Collins’ caressing trumpet and Hendrix Helmer’s guitar on the well-composed piece “Silence Thief,” you are reminded of the beautiful vastness and creativity of the world of really good jazz.  The alluring track that follows, “Sea of Grapes,” with guitarist Francesco Guaiana giving Collins a helping hand, further gives evidence of that.

“In the Bag” kicks it all up a notch or two in tempo and sets that other groove mode in motion.  Nothing says “Let’s shake it out” like a number like this. Closing this delicacy out is “August Won,” a beautiful– though disappointingly short– track with Collins on vocals.

All said, Collins arrives here with a comely project full of color and diversity. Red Light has something on which to grab hold. It doesn’t murmur;  it proudly sings. – Ronald Jackson