REVIEW - Kennard Ramsey – Somos – 5 out of 5
There is something that happens to a critic after many years of writing reviews. The writer either ends up loving everything they hear, and God knows most Smooth Jazz reviewers are shameless flag-waivers, or the critic needs to hear something with inventive originality – something that paves a new road. This album has all of the latter.
Kennard Ramsey is a successful film composer who has worked on such projects as “Ted Bundy,” “Ringmaster” and the TV shows “Knots Landing” and “Lincoln Heights.”
This whole project has a world-music feel wrapped around cool contemporary Jazz. The opening track kicks off like a Peter Gabriel album, dark, moody and mysterious. “Neo Shaman” serves as a great introduction to an artist ready to shake up the genres that he effortlessly flies through. The tune is melodic, pretty and the toe-tapping quota wasn’t lost on my ears either. The great Stanley Clarke also does an incredible bass solo.
Guest vocalist Chiwoniso handles “White Owl” a tune inspired by a dream that Ramsey had about a carnival of people passing through turnstiles possibly in New York. It’s got a Sade vibe that could make this a single.
“Loved Right” is the type of tune much needed in the Smooth Jazz format. It reminded me of the great work that Bernie Williams has been doing in the last few years. It has many hooks for radio but it’s all in its sense of cool that brings the track top-notch. Like much of Ramsey’s catchy film work I’d be proud to have this catchy little ditty as my soundtrack.
The proof in the different angle this album takes is best demonstrated on “This Time,” how Ramsey’s guitar and DJ Maga Bo’s drum programming almost sound like one instrument. The tune, about warm summer nights, demonstrates that pretty doesn’t have to be generic or derivative.
The gorgeous “Interlude (for Ian & Lucy)” is dedicated to his children and really portrays the innocence of those building block years when mortgage and savings were not in our vocabulary.
As we begin our new “star” ratings system today for album reviews, we all turn this corner on Smooth Jazz Now with a great beginning. 5 out of 5, yeah, we kinda like this one! – by John Beaudin