Thursday, June 28, 2018

New Releases: Gerald Alston; Jason Palmer – Jason Palmer At Wally’s Volume 1; Skymark - Vitrual Stars

Gerald Alston

Brilliant solo work from Gerald Alston – the first album issued under his own name, after a strong legacy of work with The Manhattans! Alston's vocals are wonderful here – beautifully crafted, with a sense of maturity and feeling that most of his younger soul contemporaries couldn't match – polished with the kind of class that kept The Manhattans strong well into the 80s – but updated nicely with some of the more adult soul modes of the latter part of the decade. Production is by Stan Sheppard and James Varner, who know to keep things laidback to keep Alston at his best – and titles include "Stay A Little While", "You Laid Your Love On Me", "I've Waited All Night", "Activated", "We've Only Just Begun", and "I Come Alive When I'm With You". (Part of the Disco Fever 40 series!)  ~ Dusty Groove

Jason Palmer – Jason Palmer At Wally’s Volume 1

Trumpeter Jason Palmer has given us some great creative projects in recent years – but this time around, he's in a wonderfully back-to-basics mode – working with an excellent combo in a small club in Boston – on long tracks that really stretch out and let us hear his imaginative skill on solos! The core group is a quintet – with the excellent Noah Preminger on tenor, and Max Light ringing out nicely on guitar – driven by rhythms from Simon Willson on bass and Lee Fish on drums – players who keep a nice sense of structure in the tunes, even while things are open enough to really let the solos expand! Chris McCarthy plays Fender Rhodes on one track on each volume – and all titles are great originals by Palmer – really showing his dynamic vision as a leader. Titles on this first volume include "Gabby", "Kemerovo", "Preservation Of The Lower 9th Ward", "Be Aware", and "Stop Drop & Roll". ~ Dusty Groove

Skymark - Vitrual Stars

Skymark is Marc Friedli – a European keyboardist with a real love of vintage instruments – Arp, Moog, Prophet, Roland, and more – all of which he brings to bear nicely in this very groovy set! As with his previous record, the vibe here is kind of late 70s/early 80s – some warmer keyboard modes, some a bit more electro – as are the vocals on the album, which are slightly more prominent than before, but often highly processed – so that they're maybe a lot more down in the mix than the keyboards, with deeper tones that are more likely to slide into the basslines and rhythms. Yet although understated, the vocals also maybe give the album more of a spiritual core than ever before – on titles that include "Yesterday's Flame", "The First Special Feeling", "Insomnia", "Our Shelter", "The Center Of My Joy", and "The Power Of A Positive Smile". ~ Dusty Groove

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