Till Brönner & Bob James
Till Brönner is Germany’s biggest selling jazz artist – a smooth trumpeter and vocalist. He has written scores for documentaries and is also a photographer. But most importantly, as far as I’m concerned, he’s made this album WITH BOB JAMES. Bob James is a pianist, keyboardist and composer. And if push came to shove, so to speak, I’d probably let him shit in my mouth.
So of course I’m on board for this.
And I’m here for this even after hearing it – because this is the right shade of soft jazz, not too plastic, there’s actually some heart in this and not just because of Bob. The musicianship is outstanding, including veteran drummer Harvey Mason and the warmth of the bass (Yuri Golubev, Christian von Kaphengst) is felt every step of the way. Take a song like Sunset Vale, Brönner’s trumpet is out in lead, soft, muted, gorgeous. And the bass playing is the chauffeur for this ride. James, stately, in his accompanist role.
I could do without the vocal tracks – the title track for instance, and the far too sugary Lemonade, both take me much closer to Michael Franks than I’d like to be.
But when this band sits back into a nice, polite instrumental, well, I’m home. My shoes are off, the dog’s fetching me my pipe. I’ve got a copy of The New Yorker fresh out of the mailbox and I’m looking to fall asleep and have whisky dreams.
The slow, tranquil reimagining of New Orleans staple, Basin Street Blues, is just honey-cream heaven right here. Opener, Save Your Love For Me, reminds me of a childhood raised on George Benson’s 80s albums and Grover Washington and Bill Withers as filtered through a Piano By Candelight/Moonlight Sax kinda vibe.
As I grow very much into growing older I find this sort of music an absolute balm – a total and pure comfort. Nothing cool at all but so smooth, so real, so relaxed and so calming. Of course I’m also here for a flip-out, some nitroglycerin-jazz always lights my fire. But there’s something about this softer, smooth side that I can just total warm to. And instantly.
So, no denying, Bob James got me here. But Till Brönner helped to keep me here. Just prefer his lips wrapped around his horn rather than a microphone. Thankfully, three quarters of this album – or more – is liltingly, lovingly instrumental.
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