Hans-Bernd Huelsmann | JazzViews Adelaide | Charles Wearing Blues &Soul Magazine UK
Malcolm Prangell B&S Jazz UK | Steve Hobbs B&S Soul
Smooth Jazz is a genre, which has it's native place in USA, especially in California. I don't mean that someone invent the genre. Instrumental Pop music with an jazzy impact is played and listened everywhere in the world. But in California some radio manager had the idea to call this kind of music "Smooth Jazz" and gave the child a home. Since this time this tender plant developed and bloomed all over USA and the world. Australia was a terra incognito for Smooth Jazz over several years. But inspired by the American artists is the Smooth Jazz community now growing even in down under.
No music genre can exist without radiostations spreading the music and acquiring new friends for this genre. In Sydney Smooth Saturday brings out the best in Rhythm and Jazz on 2NSB-FM. From 10 am to 6 pm the music is smooth and the presenters just keep it coming. Another station is 2RES . Radio Eastern Sydney is the community broadcaster for the Eastern Sydney region. 2CCR-FM is a community radio station operated by Cumberland Media Association Inc. They broadcast from Baulkham Hills, a suburb of Western Sydney. All these stations are playing Smooth Jazz. More will come soon.
the most import part of music are the musician themselves. Noel
Elmowy, one of these Australian Smooth Jazz artists, has been
constantly involved in the arranging & production of artists compositions
since the early 80's. Australia is a small market for instrumental smooth
funky Jazz. So he and his fellow musicians tended to search and be inspired
by US musicians. For him Herbie Hancock or George
Duke were the inspiration for truly playing in a freer format
than popular time constrained Pop tunes.
Let's talk about the musicians, who are playing on Noel's new album:
Land Richards (drummer) and friend helped in some introductions especially when he took Noel to a Gerald Albright /Will Downing session. They met while Land played for Al Jarreau in Australia. He met Wyn Morro of Avalondesign, a genius electronics engineer in US who put him on to Con Psorakis (Evia Systems) a real link in the studios in LA and from there doors started to open. These guys are Australian also! So he came in contact with Michael O'Neill, who is guitarist with George Bensons touring group and a friend of Lands too. Another artist appearing on Noel's album is Chad Wackermann (Frank Zappa), who lives in Australia. Chris Soulos & Noel have played together since the 70's. Basically all these musicians he work with. Doug Williams & Erana Mei Leef are Sydneys numero uno vocalists Keren Minshull(Euphoria) & Noel had a band in the late 70s & again in the late 80s. She has a hit on the dance clubs now.
The recording process involved the gamut of Recording mediums be they Cubase VST24/Protools24/Hard Disk/Analog Tape/ADAT/DA88 /DA78/HR/flying parts to & from US as well as himself going to USA to complete parts of this project. At one stage tracks #4,#5,#8,#12 were totally lost into hard drive heaven which stunned & knocked Noel 's spirit for many weeks. He comments his fate: "I 'm actually now so glad it happened because the results were far superior to what may have been."
Cinqueterre, the Italian description for the fifth continent, is an uptempo tune dominated by Andrew Oh's lead flute and Jason Morphett 's flute, who's sax solo is fulminant. Noel brilliants in quick piano runnings following the steps of George Duke.
Precious love is a slow flowing tune with wonderful samples of Take 6 and the beautiful vocal highlight Doug Williams well framed by the backing vocals of Keren Minshull and Danny D'Costa. A candlelight tune par excellence. Michael O'Neill on guitar and Andrew Oh on sax, set further instrumental gems.
On Weavin' you can listen to the fine guitar licks of Art Phillips and Andrew Oh on sax. Exotic rhythm assets are played in by Bashiri Johnson (percussion loops), Land Richards (drums) and Tony Azzopardi (percussion). People complaining about the shortness of many Smooth Jazz tunes will register with contentment tunes with length of 6 minutes and more.
Bobo is a track Noel became associated with in
London and which became a signature tune for him. It's a cover version
of the great keyboardist Webster Lewis' from the early eighties. The
rhythm section on this recording of EL Bobo was taken
from a very basic recording demo Noel produced for his
band Espirito in the mid 80's for another demo of one
of his latin tunes on an old 8 track 1/2 inch Tascam 80-8. Every tone
counts, is the motto under which one can understand Noel's
perfect piano play.Vocalists on El Bobo are Keren
Minshull & Jerry Malla (not mentioned in the liner notes).
Awake presents the beautiful voice of Keren Minshull in a lovely company with Andrew Oh on sax and naturally Noel on piano. Noel plays like a nightingale. Keren sings: "I can't get enough of you" and I can refer this sentence to Noel's music.
Good news is a fresh uptempo vocal tune with the honey mellow voice of Erana Mei Leef. A fine tenor sax solo is presented by Tim Oram. Over all Noel's excellent piano play.
Let it Fly is a funky tune with a smooth piano overlay balanced with Gerald Albright this time on tenor Sax.
Wahwah guitar and heavy drum loops separate the following tune So-Sue-Me with breathtaking uptempo solos of Vladimir Khusid's mute trumpet, Phil Stone's distortion guitar and Marcus Miller's bass samples. Noel demonstrates his skill in arrangement and programming.
Flossy Aussie in a petite-fleur-rhythm shows a new Vladimir Khusid as a master of trumpet with a surprising development.
After some Smooth Jazz let's play some Blues and Noel plays the Blues on Hammond B3 on Shuffle The Deck. No one else than Steve Gadd plays the drums. A well-respected drummer who has appeared in many types of settings and with many great musicians like Bob James, Chick Corea, Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn and Al DiMeola.
Azrou is a tune more in the timely radio-like way with heavy Hip Hop drum programming and some sax accents, well-known by the actually radio-charts. But this tune has it's own superior character by Noel's outstanding piano play and Carl Dewhurst brilliant guitar play.
The funky tail-light is Come On Over with slick keyboard play and many Wah-wah clavinet effects.
If you can spend some money for your CD-collection, don't miss this album. And for all lovers of his music further good news: Noel is already working on his next album.
Sydney keyboardist Noel Elmowy, has recently released a most enjoyable and refreshing, independent CD entitled "Feelin' Good". Recorded in part at Lurline Bay Studios, Sydney and also in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California, Noel proves he is not only a fine keyboardist, arranger and musician, but also the composer of some excellent tunes aimed at the Adult Contemporary Jazz market.
Noel, who plays Piano and various keyboards on all tracks as well as some bass and percussion is joined on various tracks by Peter Northcote guitar, Jason Morphett saxophones and flute, and Christopher Soulos, bass. Drums are played on different tracks by Land Richards, Greg Sheean and Chad Wackerman. Guest artists on the recording include - vocalists Doug Williams, Karen Minshull and Erina Mei Leef; saxophonists Gerald Albright, Tim Oramand, and Andrew Oh; guitarists Albert Calvo, Dave Colton, and Carl Dewhurst; percussionists Tony Azzorpardi, Walter Figuero and Jose Marquez; and trumpeter Vladimir Khusid. All musicians contribute to the successful interpretation of these 13 fine original tunes from Noel's fertile pen.
The bright opening track, "Cinqueterre" features a funky flute-keyboard melody interspersed with some tasty saxophone. Vocalist Doug Williams leads "Precious Love" with his distinctive ballad style over an appropriately smooth setting. The funky rhythm of "Weavin'" allows for some brief alternating solos from piano, guitar and saxophone. "El Bobo" with its Latin influences is reminiscent of the sounds of Sergio Mendez and his various "Brazil" groups. "Only For You" again features Doug Williams with some effective saxophone and keyboard interludes.The funkiness of "Awake" and "Good News" respectively feature vocalists Karen Minshull and Erina Mei Leef and some excellent piano work from Noel. The saxophone of Gerald Albright is heard to advantage on "Let It Fly", while "So - Sue - Me" uses drum loops and samples to create a layered effect over which the relaxed muted trumpet style of Vladimir Khusid can float. The 6/8 feel of "Flossy Aussie" again proves a good foil for some more muted trumpet from Vladimir. "Shuffle The Deck" shuffles in a style reminiscent of Larry Carlton and the funky piano-sax melody of "Azrou" has a distinct Crusaders influence.The bright funky melody of the concluding track, "Come On Over" is played on bass with some complementing sax interludes.
An excellent CD filled with smooth, yet invigorating tunes that successfully maintain interest throughout its extended length. The music makes great late night listening, but also rewards closer inspection. It features some fine musicians who provide a consistency of performance over all 13 tracks under the guiding influence of Noel. Without consulting the recording details it's difficult to tell which tracks have been recorded in Sydney and which in California. The recording is available via the internet at Middle 8 Music (www.sofcom.com.au/mall/middle8).
I know very little about the smooth-jazz keyboard maestro, Noel Elmowy, except that he's actually an Antipodean, hailing from somewhere in the land of Oz (I mean, of course, Australia). What I can state with certainty about Mr. Elmowy is that he's produced an accomplished, likeable album that is brought to the UK by those purveyors of quality music, Expansion Records.
From the opening cut, a breezy, hi-octane instrumental where Elmowy's shimmering keyboards duel playfully with Jason Morphett's sax lines, this album oozes class. Although largely instrumental in character, the set also incorporates a handful of soulful vocal tracks - Doug Williams's mellow baritone (he sounds a little like Will Downing) graces a couple of songs, of which the elegant, mid-tempo "Only For You" featuring a stellar contribution from Gerald Albright on sax and bass stands out.
Female singer, Keren Minshull, features on the Latin-infused "El Bobo" (a remake of an old Webster Lewis tune) and "Awake", a sprightly groover dominated by Elmowys mellifluous, Bob James-like piano runs. Very tasty. Elsewhere, Elmowy holds the attention with a series of well-executed instrumentals ranging from a frothy funk outing called "So-Sue-Me," "Let It Fly" featuring Albright again on sax and the excellent "FlossyAussie" which almost ventures into straight-ahead jazz territory. Elmowy's versatility is evidenced by his command of the Hammond B3 organ on "Shuffle The Deck," where he's accompanied by some tasty guitar fills by Phil Stone and drummer Steve Gadd, who taps out a lazily swinging shuffle groove.
you're enamoured by the work of Bob James and Joe Sample, Ill
guarantee youll appreciate this hugely satisfying set from the
© Charles Wearing, Album Soundcheck, Blues &Soul Magazine UK Feb 2001
This impressive and varied album delivers the whole gamut of fusion styles, from the smooth jazz of "Weavin", which possesses a hook large to snare a great white shark and stars guitarist Art Phillips in full flow, to the funk-tinged fusion of "Cinqueterre". An up-to-date and refreshing cover of Webster Lewis' "El Bobo" flows like a gently running river and is a reminder how great a track this is. With its nagging guitar riff, "Awake" is a brisk fusion number that zips joyfully with our man taking the piano lead. Gerald Albright wails soulfully on the catchy "Let It Fly" over the song's simple melody and jaunty rhythm. As is the harder funkier "So Sue Me" that belts along at pace. "Flossy Aussie" (Elmowy is Australian incidentally) is a straightahead jazz tune that is taken at a waltz tempo - a throwback to those classic Blue Note sessions of the 60s, Vladimir Khusid excels on trumpet as he does using the mute on "So Sue Me". Throughout, Elmowy's playing is inventive and interesting whilst his arrangements allow others to stretch out. This album may well get overlooked in the whirlpool of events that is the music industry, but that would be a huge shame, as it is quality from start to finish. The third unmissable album this month - just buy and enjoy.
Malcolm Prangell, Hot Jazz and Cool Fusion Review B&S Jazz UK Feb
Another foray into the unfamiliar world of S-J for one of the UK's leading soul labels, this time revealing the talents of this Aussie pianist who wrote, or co-wrote, all of the tracks with the exception of the inspired cover choice, Webster Lewis' immortal "El Bobo", a track that is already garnering heavy support from Jazz FM. Gerald Albright appears as guest saxman,and the vocal talents of Doug Williams are put to good use on the mellow 2-steps "Precious Love" and "Only For You", both being worthy of your attention. Williams is no stranger to the label of course, having graced the Rockmelons "Loves Gonna Bring You Home" with his dulcet tones. The other vocal track "Good News" is a jazzy affair featuring the delightful Erana Mei Leef, and you'll find that some of theinstrumentals are actually quite ballsy, if you know what I mean, particularly thegroovy Hammond-laced "Shuffle The Deck". Running along at a majestic 74 minutes, this album represents good vfm, whatever your tastes.
Steve Hobbs ,B&S Soul Album Reviews issue 836, March 5 2001