It’s May, we haven’t even reached the middle of the year yet and there are already quite a few albums that will surely end in my top list of 2006 like Andile Yenana’s Who’s Got The Map, Natural Selection’s Come On Over, Jhelisa’s A Primitive Guide To Being There, Grupo X’s Food For Your Latin Soul, Malena Perez’s Stars or Karen Bernod’s Life @ 360 Degrees to name just a few. The new album by Jazzhole, Poet’s Walk, is another strong contender for album of the year. This time it has been released in Europe first by Soul Brother Records, who also featured two cuts of Jazzhole’s Circle Of The Sun album on the Organic Soul 3 compilation and who released Marlon Saunder’s Enter My Mind album in Europe. An US release is scheduled for July 11th.
Just one thing about Soul Brother Records and the sticker they’ve put on the CD’s jewel case. They’re citing three reviews and two of them compare Poet’s Walk to “the best album Maxwell never made” and “the second album that Maxwell should have made.” Come on B&S (once known as Blues & Soul…that must have really been in a previous life when I’ve read Blues & Soul, nowadays they start reviews with “Don’t be put off by the name [Jazzhole]“…how any lover of soul music can be put off by jazz is beyond me) and Echoes, these comparisons do neither this album nor Jazzhole as a band nor Marlon Saunders as singer any justice. Jazzhole and Marlon Saunders both have shown more than once - actually this is Jazzhole’s fifth album release - that they can deliver the goods, for example listen to Marlon’s second album A Groove So Deep. And besides, this album just isn’t Urban Hang Suite Part II.
If they’ve called it Marlon’s third solo album than I would agree. While Jazzhole engaged different singers on their previous releases this time it’s all about Marlon as a the voice of Jazzhole. So the idea of a collective with different voices and styles is somehow gone. But if the result is such a deep, soulful and great album as this one than I hardly can argue against this decision.
All but two cuts were written by Marlon Saunders, Warren Rosenstein and John Pondel, the core members of Jazzhole. The two cover versions are great updates of Boz Scaggs’ Lowdown and the SOS Band’s Take Your Time (Do It Right).
It’s really hard to pick a favourite here. All songs ooze soul and quality. There’s the midtempo delight All The Ways, maybe the one song that evoked the aforementioned comparisons to Maxwell, or the groovy Jonesing spiced up by Dave Binney on saxophone. The gentle latin inspired It Would Have Been Enough is a captivating duet with Yemen-native vocalist Michal Cohen and a great tune for a hot summer evening. The stripped down ballad The Slipping Of Time with Marlon and John Pondel on guitar only is just too good to be true.
The song Timeless sums up what the music on Poet’s Walk is all about: strong songs, organic instrumentation and a great singer. In a nutshell it’s soul music with a timeless quality, that you can listen to over and over again. A real must-have for any serious soul music fan.
Tracklisting of Jazzhole Poet’s Walk: 1. Poet’s Walk/ 2. All The Ways/ 3. Jonesing/ 4. Lowdown/ 5. One More Time/ 6. It Would Have Been Enough/ 7. The Slipping Of Time/ 8. Do It Right/ 9. Timeless/ 10. All The Ways (Dub) | released 2006 by Beave Music/Soul Brother Records
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