Sandro Albert’s latest release The Color of Things is a marvelous fusion of Brazilian and contemporary Jazz stylings that lends itself both to the musician as well as the lay person. Filled with positive melodies and dynamic arrangements, The Color of Things showcases Albert’s wonderful talents as a writer and arranger inline with today’s top performers/composers like Pat Metheny and Brian Hughes. It is a lavishly produced CD with a killer set of supporting musicians imparting inspiration and color to Albert’s melodic and harmonic musings.
The first tune, “Message Across The Sea”, with its unison guitar and flute melody line establishes the character of the CD for what is to come, a festive display of delicate melodies, evolving harmonies, tonal and instrumental color utilizing voice, flute, the occasional accordion and muted trumpets, grand orchestration, insightful musical exchanges and most importantly, enjoyment. It is this enjoyment that runs throughout the music and I can’t help but think that there were a lot of smiling faces throughout the session, especially Albert’s.
In fact, there are no less than fourteen smiling faces making up this record, with notable nods to keyboardist Russel Ferrante of Yellowjackets fame and Robben Ford, the popular jazz/blues guitarist who shows up on the tune “If We Could Dance Now” featuring his instantly identifiable musical stamp throughout the changes following a tasty solo from Albert himself. Definitely a hit in my book!
The remaining musicians also deserve nods of approval. Mike Valerio’s warm sounding acoustic bass playing, Edsel Gomez’s exceptional piano playing, Jimmy Branly’s powerhouse drumming, Mark LedFord’s sweet sounding vocalizing and trumpet playing alongside vocalist Jean Baylor and all the rest just sound great lending dynamic and energetic musical support and color. Hence the title I’m sure.
That being said, kudos have to go out to Albert himself for coming up with such an enchanting album of delightful tunes that not only feature his zealous guitar chops on electric and acoustic, of which there are plenty, but also his writing and arranging skills which are impressive. In fact, one gets the sense that the tunes are just as important to Albert as his playing, maybe even more so. And to me that’s a good thing.
What may not be such a good thing is that there may be some critics out there who will dismiss this recording as nothing more than a Metheny facsimile. Don’t let their opinions sway you from checking this CD out though. While there may be some minor stylistic and sonic similarities with Metheny’s music (check out the title tune), Sandro Albert is no clone. In fact in his Jazz Guitar Life interview, Albert states that: “I hardly listen to Metheny, but I have a strong influence of Milton Nascimento, Wes Montegomery and Toninho Horta…I think we [are] all being inspired by good music. I like melodies a lot. When I heard Metheny for the first time I also thought that there was some similarity, but I was very ok with that, he is one of the best.” End of discussion.
There are a lot of surprises in Albert’s music but what I like most is his penchant for writing developing themes within the tunes. Repeat listenings will usually reveal something not heard before as themes and motifs blend in with the dominant harmony by way of subtle shading. For a great example of this, check out the tune “Aguas” as the song takes a few unexpected detours before a climatic “finish” brings you back to the beginning. Great Stuff indeed! And for a softer side, check out “Choro To Catarina”, a beautiful tune dedicated to Albert’s mother combining classical and jazz harmonies that blend together beautifully in a rich sonic tapestry of gorgeous tones from the piano playing of Tamir Hendelman and Albert’s smooth sounding classical. Definitely worth the cost of the CD alone.
The Color of Things has been playing regularly on my CD player since I first received it a few months ago and now that I have an MP3 player it’s on there as well. I really do like this CD and I think it is an album that can be appreciated and enjoyed by musician and non-musician alike. Great songs, great guitar playing, great players, what more could you ask for? Check it out and enjoy.