Paul Hardcastle – Hardcastle 8

October 18, 2018

Oct. 18, 2018

As the first line of the inside cover says: So, here we have Hardcastle 8. Maybe that’s all that needs to be said. Hardcastle fans know the drill. You listen, the familiar, gripping groove washes over you – whether you’re just chillin’ at home, riding along the highway or coastline, or sippin’ champagne with your love bug – you tap your foot, you bop your head, you snap your fingers, you do whatever dance you do. That’s all part of the Hardcastle Effect. If you know or have experienced it personally, you know you never get over it. You’re hooked for life. It’s magical, exotic, beautiful, smoother than butter, and compelling. Paul Hardcastle has been the master creator of this groove going back too far for me to remember when I first became addicted. Read More

Mindi Abair – Wild Heart

May 13, 2014

May 12, 2014

While we know most of our contemporary jazz artists as just that – contemporary jazz artists (some are as well noted for their traditional jazz or jazz fusion contributions, as well), artists like Mindi Abair CDChieli Minucci and Jeff Golub (and, often Russ Freeman) give us glimpses into the passion they harbor for rock and blues. Saxophonist Mindi Abair, one who has many rock friends and has also travelled in that circle, as well, gives us an up-close-and-personal look at her rockin’ soul with her new release Wild Heart (very appropriately titled for its intensity and power), scheduled for release on
May 27, 2014.

Abair makes this no-holds-barred approach to the fiery and expressive genre fit so well and so easily with her persona and the persona of the genre that saw the likes of the legendary visionary Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and countless others reshape blues and rock and roll since the Beatles forever. Read More

Paul Hardcastle — The Chill Lounge, Volume 2

December 9, 2013

Dec. 9, 2013

The prolific keys master Paul Hardcastle has recorded album after album under either his own name or under the pseudonym The Jazzmasters. He’s also begun a series called The Chill LoungeChill Lounge. In releasing this series, he’s said that he was looking for that sound you hear in chill bars where the emphasis is on “laid-back ambient sounds and downtempo beats with not so much emphasis on lead instruments.” He finds this to be quite different from his melody-led material, to which he suspects he will return on his next Jazzmasters projects “for you smooth jazzers.”

The second and latest in the series is called Chill Lounge, Volume 2 (what else?). Now, from this writer’s perspective, while there are some distinct differences, like more laid-back tracks, the feel and vibe of this project does still resemble both the warm and cool sounds of Hardcastle, no matter what name is given to the project. Hardcastle is Hardcastle. No one does it quite like him, and I personally love that fact. Yes, there are few melody-led pieces dominated by lead instruments (listen to a track like “Dreamin’”), but it’s all still so attractive, infectious (you can’t escape hearing the tunes in your head long after the song is over), and smoothly Hardcastle (e.g., check out tracks like the lead one, “Soft Rain,” and the tracks “Crystal Whisper” and “Slippin’ Away.”  So Hardcastle, complete with the celestial vocals of his daughter Maxine). Read More

Paul Hardcastle — VII

March 17, 2013

Mar. 17 2013

I am firmly convinced that as long as Paul Hardcastle continues to crank out CDs, they will always be marked with the flawless cool we have witnessed time and again. Working a Paul Hardcastle VIImelody tirelessly has become a big part of the man’s identity. You hear a Hardcastle tune, you immediately recognize it. You may not be sure from which CD it comes, but, as I’ve often said before, you really don’t care. The man’s music is mysteriously magnetic and charming. Such is the case with his latest, Hardcastle VII.

The super-talented artist/producer/composer says he set out to do something conceptually different this time around. Well, the dance-ready tracks are (refreshingly) longer (the lead track is about 12 minutes long), many containing an urban feel, and only one main vocal track (although I’ve always been a fan of Maxine Hardcastle and, before her, Helen Rogers – they are each still featured here in one way or another, however), and delving deeper into the instrumental vault in his mind. Maybe because I’m so personally intoxicated with the Hardcastle groove, I don’t examine the mechanics of concept and motivation as it relates to him. It just all sounds so damn good.  Read More

Paul Hardcastle – Hardcastle VI

July 15, 2011

July 15, 2011

On the latest from iconic hitmaker Paul Hardcastle entitled (of course, if you’ve been counting)  Hardcastle VI, the lead track, “Rainforest/What’s Going On?,” opens with the spoken intro “History Repeats itself.”  How apropos when speaking of Hardcastle and his seemingly infinite success story (a part of which will surely include this magnificent work). The guy can’t and doesn’t miss.  Period.

Always with some standout track or story, the talk here is surely the fact that, after almost a year of negotiating for the use of the late great Marvin Gaye’s actual vocal on this track, he succeeded, and the result is awesome. Of course, the now-usual addition of his satiny voiced daughter Maxine and super talented son, saxophonist Paul Jr. make the mix that much more delightful with each release.

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