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Mekiel Reuben – MR

May 7, 2019

Veteran saxman Mekiel Reuben decided to go another route with his new recording MR, pulling together never-released tracks from years ago, recording and programming them via his home Midi. A truly home-grown project. There is one re-release and one track written for a friend a while back. Very interesting that he was able to put a 2019 twist on material as dated as 1986!

There is bright, expressive work here that seems to defy any specific dating of the material. It’s as though the 1986 material, for example, could have been written last week.

Packing a smooth and snappy groove throughout, it’s a jazz/R&B project with a lot of melodic swagger.

There’s seldom a point in the album where your head, fingers, and feet aren’t answering the call of the rhythmic, funky vibe that will surely take hold of you from track 1.

One thing that stands out about MR is melody. This is a “chatty” album when it comes to having something to say, and that “something” may well be “Come groove with me. Relate to me. Feel me.”

Tracks of note for me include the high-steppin’ “That Girl Told Me,” the super-funky “Hangin’ With Mario” (a tune fat with bass and sassy synth), “Nobody Needs You,” the slick and swaying “Zoraida (A Feel for Hope),” the strollin’ “Steppin’ in San Gabriel,” and the sassy, midtempo “It’s 420 Time.” The album ends on a slow, soulful note with “Losing You.”

While the lead vocals here, if I’m being candid, are a little underwhelming for me, Reuben makes up for it with good quality compositions and competent sax work.

Indie artists like Reuben are still very much focused on contributing to this genre’s survival, and all hats should be off to that effort. Lend an ear in support. – Ronald Jackson