Crystal City

Crystal City

by André Ward
     
 

The way smooth jazz was evolving by the mid-2000s, it became increasingly hard for indie saxophonists to break into the kind of regular festival, package tour, and cruise dates that would catapult them to stardom. But with two albums on Billboard's Top Ten Contemporary Jazz chart and the same label that launched Najee and See more details below

Overview

The way smooth jazz was evolving by the mid-2000s, it became increasingly hard for indie saxophonists to break into the kind of regular festival, package tour, and cruise dates that would catapult them to stardom. But with two albums on Billboard's Top Ten Contemporary Jazz chart and the same label that launched Najee and Alex Bugnon to stardom behind him, versatile Chicago native André Ward was still aiming high. With a soprano tone that flows easy like Kim Waters and Najee, he gets off to a promising start on Crystal City's sensual funk opener, "They Keep Calling Me"; as he takes the melody higher and begins improvising on soprano, Ward also imbues the lead instrument with sizzling alto and tenor textures. The emotional strength of that track would have made it an obvious first single, but the one actually chosen was the likable urban vocal tune that follows, "Wishful Thinking," which relegates Ward to a supporting role behind the Anita Baker-like vocals of Barbara Fowler. Just as Najee once did with "Najee's Theme," Ward makes a similar statement about his identity on the cool and simmering retro-soul tune "André's Theme," which features Yasha's cool Rhodes harmonies. Before getting back to the core of the disc -- his heartfelt, urgent, and melodic playing on any of his three saxes -- Ward makes the mistake of thinking that the EWI was still a hip instrument in 2007. His thumping shout-out to his hometown, "Chicago (Here We Go)," is a fun and whimsical piece that would be much more effective with a real horn taking the lead melody. This misstep is nicely balanced by asserting his right as an indie artist to actually lead with the flute on the sensual "Abstract," but -- yikes! -- why swirl it with the EWI? Although it's not the most unique tune in the set from an arrangement standpoint, Ward's alto passion on "New Orleans Lights" is a beautifully spiritual highlight. Indicative of Ward's renown among the elite of the smooth jazz genre are the appearances of keyboardist and songwriter Brian Culbertson, albeit in a background role, and bassist Nathan East on the dreamy "I Don't Want to Be in Love." One would think that Ward would have proofread before allowing the misspellings of Culbertson and co-writer/backing vocalist Marc Nelson to reach print. Despite a handful of flaws, Ward proves worthy of the big leagues on this collection, which perfectly fuses his Berklee College of Music jazz sensibilities with a love for cool hip-hop and retro-soul.

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Product Details

Release Date:
03/05/2007
Label:
Cd Baby
UPC:
0802469095920
catalogNumber:
5637206176
Rank:
97090

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

André Ward   Primary Artist,Flute,Saxophone,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,EWI
Marc Nelson   Background Vocals
Brian Culbertson   Keyboards
Nathan East   Electric Bass
Brian Thomas   Trombone
Gordon Worthy   Keyboards,Synthesizer Bass,Soloist
Andrew Sherman   Piano,Keyboards,Soloist
Rohn Lawrence   Guitar
Barbara Fowler   Vocals,Background Vocals
Brad Young   spanish guitar
Jeff Lockhart   Guitar
Tyrone Chase   Guitar
Brian Dunn   Drums
Brockett Parson   Piano,Soloist

Technical Credits

Marc Nelson   Composer,Producer,Vocal Arrangements
Brian Culbertson   Composer
Beau Huggins   Executive Producer
Gordon Worthy   Arranger,Composer,Producer,drum programming
Andrew Sherman   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer,drum programming
Craig Glanville   Arranger,Composer,Producer
André Ward   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Horn Arrangements
Yasha Barjona   Composer
Jim Brick   Mastering
Kenny Lewis   Engineer
Wirlie Morris   Composer
Anne Thomas   Administration
Lynne Butkiewicz   Art Direction
Charli Huggins   Executive Producer
Ronnie Dividson   Graphic Design
Chauncey Gemar   Engineer

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