Review – Curtis Haywood : Curtis Haywood by Akbar Nour
August 1, 2009 - Saxophonist Curtis Haywood has taken the Smooth Jazz stage by storm with his exciting classy eponymous debut album, that entails twelve sizzling tracks (eight original compositions and four covers of R&B classics). Legendary sax performers Grover Washington Jr. and David Sanborn had very key influences on Haywood and helped him craft his passionate way of performing his horn.
For Haywood, music should have healing aspects and act as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. As he puts it in his CD liner notes: “In order to give or receive a blessing your mind hear and spirit must remain open”.
Being a musician with a strong social conscience, Haywood has taken proceeds from the album and donated it to help the work of two NGOs bringing relief efforts in Africa. And he also applies this philanthropic philosophy with the tracks “Rain Song”, a musical prayer for the famine and war-affected people of Ethiopia, and “Heal Our Land”, a vibrant tribute to the victims of hurricane Katrina that shattered thousands of people’s homes in 2005. The background vocals of this track are performed by the musician’s children Bryanna and Nia-Dyamond Haywood.
The soprano player conveys his message of hope to the mankind through soulful and fluid saxophone phrasings throughout the album. The track ushering the album “Anytime” showcases Haywood’s silky saxophone, backed by Loris Holland’s soulful background vocals. “Monet” looks like an expressive musical painting with guitarist Jeff Mironoff and marimba performer Nyles Webster adding coloured paints to Haywood’s palette. “Missing U” is a great romantic tune, then comes up “Moving West”, a soulful acoustic guitar/saxophone duet between Haywood and Mironoff.
Haywood is a magnificent painter using many colours in his music such as the velvety Stevie Wonder’ rendition of”Creepin’” the bouncy “Springtime”, the hypnotic “Crockpot”, the sunny “Just Friends”. Most of these tracks emphasise the penetrating sound of Haywood’s magic horn.
The album closes with my favourite track of the album, the meaningful “Journey” that grew out of love Haywood has for the rock group Fourplay
Haywood’s debut eponymous album is a beautiful collection of tracks with great musicianship and delivering various messages of hope and open-mindedness that unambiguously touches the listener’s heart, mind and soul.
For more information: www.curtishaywood.com - By Akbar Nour
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