Chill Out Island

From New Age to downtempo electronica to acoustic folk, Chill Out Island surveys the finest in relaxing music.

Archive for Jazz

David Hansen transcends contemporary classical music on ‘All That I Could Give’

Reviewed by Carson James

Artist: David Hansen

Title: All That I Could Give

Rarely does a contemporary classical or New Age CD arrive in our offices which has vocal parts alongside instrumentals. Of course, that has never been a requirement for quality in the field; it’s just that you don’t see it often. David Hansen is among the exceptions, and what is even more remarkable about his record All That I Could Give is his singing voice. Hansen lays down some tear-jerkingly plaintive vocals on a few tracks on the CD, especially on “Love in Three Days,” wherein he has seemed to find true love, only to see it slip away. It’s the kind of composition that could transcend the classical roots of Hansen’s style and cross over into the adult pop market.

For devotees of jazz fusion and New Age, Hansen has that side of the coin cornered, too, with a couple of striking instrumentals. Percolating synthesizers deliver the goods on “Toleetah” while “Ladder of Being” moves to a steady, irresistible groove. Given Hansen’s eclectic tastes, it’s hard to classify All That I Could Give into a single genre, but then that’s a large part of its appeal, too.


Geresti fuses own personality in piano renditions of ’70s classics

Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Artist: Geresti

Title: Keys into the 70’s

At first, Keys into the 70’s may seem like one of the dime-a-dozen Muzak versions of moldy Easy Listening hits. But when you begin listening to the album itself, you’ll be as surprised as I upon first spin. Geresti isn’t simply playing note-for-note piano renditions of Top-40 classics from the bell-bottom generation. Rather, he has fused his own personality in them, letting his fingers create magic on the keyboard. On his cover of the Stylistics’ priceless “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” Geresti’s playing is immaculate, radiating a loving glow that doesn’t wear off until long after the CD is done. He’s not trying to imitate the soulful, angelic qualities of the original; instead, he’s paying tribute to it.

You get the feeling that these songs are personal to him, that they most likely helped inspire his growth as a musician. Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” is given a jazzy elegance; you don’t need hear any singing because Geresti’s piano is already whispering the words in your ear. Styx’s breathtaking “Babe” was almost unrecognizable in the beginning with its playful intro, but when the familiar melody kicks in, you are swept away by it. Geresti has turned what could’ve been a generic Brand X product into a deliciously seductive work of art.

Torch’s ‘Charmed’ offers a ‘world of endless delights’


Reviewed by Carson James

Artist: Torch

Title: Charmed

Torch’s Charmed has been delighting me for a couple of months now; in fact, it has become such a presence in my everyday listening that reviewing it is proving difficult. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, just an absence of words. Finding ways of writing about a well-played record as if it was still fresh in my mind would normally be impossible, but thankfully Charmed conveys more of its abundant qualities after massive spins.

At first, my attention was fixated on the smoky singing of Seela Misra. Veering from the film noir-ish enigmatic beauty of “Night of the Arrival” to the giddy self-confidence and radiant sexuality of “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” it was inevitable that my ears would linger on her voice. However, after a while I began to notice the top-flight musicianship of her band. Chris Maresh and Mike Porter are superb bassists, helping give the songs (a combination of original compositions and nicely chosen remakes) their tight, intoxicating rhythms. Jon Greene is a solid drummer, especially thrilling on “Is It Enough” and “Caravan.”

I envy those who will just now hear Charmed. To them, a world of endless delights will follow.

Crooner Julie Blue is soulful, passionate on new CD

Reviewed by Carson James

Artist: Julie Blue

Title: One of a Kind Woman

Just as its title promises, Julie Blue is, indeed, a One of a Kind Woman on this beautifully crafted and sweetly-scented album. With a voice as sultry as Sade’s and as dreamy as Dido’s, Blue unites the world of jazz, blues, pop, and soul with tasteful and deliciously inviting compositions. Her vocals are the key to your heart, opening the doors of various emotions, from romantic regret (“Love Looks Like Now”) to positive reinforcement (“Believe in Yourself”) to spiritual reflection (“Way of the Mystery”). It’s all performed with emotional highs and lows, delivered with passion yet restraint as well.

Blue is a crooner, but one with real feeling in her voice; she is not some restaurant karoake singer. No, Blue is a vocalist who captures the thoughts conveyed in her words with an honest-to-God sincerity. “Love Looks Like Now” recalls Shawn Colvin’s “Sunny Came Home” in its mix of sad lyrics with rather upbeat adult alternative music. “Love Looks Like Now” surprised me because I was expecting a mostly jazzy affair. However, Blue is not one to be categorized. “Believe in Yourself” has echoes of Elton John in the piano playing and “Bluer Than Blue” and “Well of Love” are extensions of the blues. This is a CD that continuously surprises and delights as it goes along. To say that I’m merely in love with it is an understatement.