I was a little nervous when I received Jazzhole’s new release “Circle of the Sun“, because I wanted to play it at work but I was not sure if it was “office-friendly.” My first exposure to Jazzhole was their funky “The Beat is the Bomb” remix album in 1996. I was wonderfully surprised when I heard the opening track “Love Philosophy” with Marlon Saunders’ smooth vocals over a mellow backing groove. I played the entire album several times that day and have been enjoying it very much since then. Their neo soul/nu-jazz grooves are as peaceful and tranquil as they are earthy, funky, and soulful.
The New York based band Jazzhole debuted in 1994 with founding members Marlon Saunders, John Pondel, and Warren Rosenstein. Their lineup of players has changed over the years as the band and their sound evolved. The trio is still responsible for much of the songwriting and production and several new members have been added to their musical landscape. Tabla (drum) player Naren Budhakar, vocalist and Cameroon-native Kaïssa Doumbé, and percussionist Daniel Sadownick have joined the rich mixture of this group. Rounding out their dynamic groove are vocalists Lucia Iman and Michelle Lewis, David Innisis on bass, Dave Binney on saxophone, Gary Pozner on rhodes and organ, Kevin Disimone on rhodes, Mark Robohm on drums, and Mazz-Mlani on violin.
The highlights of this album are driving beat of “Ndolo“, the bossa nova “Horn Interlude“, the sensual “Love Thang“, the tropical mood of “Circle of the Sun“, the Latin flavored “Um Ritmo No Meu Sono“, the romantic “A Little Dress For Mary.” Also featured are Michelle Lewis on the remake of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence” with the sultry rhythm of the tabla in the background and Kaïssa Doumbé melodically singing in her native language of Duala on the remake of Leon Russell’s “Superstar.”
There is a groove for every mood on this album from bouncy rhythms to warm summer night melodies. For more information on Jazzhole and sound clips from their current release, please check out their website, www.jazzhole.com.