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Hardcastle 5

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Album Review

With the release in Japan of The Jazzmasters featuring vocalist Helen Rogers in 1991, English composer and synth master Paul Hardcastle introduced a fresh hybrid of jazz and dance music that became an international phenomenon over the next decade and a half. The first Jazzmasters disc received the NARM Bestselling Jazz Recording award and is one of the best-selling independent jazz records of all time; it stayed on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart for over a year. Alternating his annual output between five electronic-inflected Jazzmasters recordings and four previous albums released as Hardcastle, Hardcastle 2, etc., the multifaceted artist — whose worldwide sales top 11 million — has amassed a total of seven number one contemporary jazz hits. Hardcastle 5 is another cool, low-key, sensual urban pop-jazz delight, whose melodies, atmospheres, and easy grooves make it perfect background makeout music. There are a few touches of deeper exotica that create a nice balance and catch the ears between moods, most notably "Marimba," which finds Hardcastle approximating the sound of that instrument. Hardcastle 5 is notable for introducing to his legion of fans two new and important performers. Soulful, ethereal vocalist Becki Biggins lends her dreaminess to the four tracks she co-wrote with Hardcastle, including the thoughtful, slightly melancholy "Don't You Know" and the super-sexy "Closer," which fans of the similarly toned Robin Thicke could surely eat up. The last track proudly introduces 16-year-old saxophonist Paul Hardcastle, Jr. into the mix with the younger musician's first recorded composition, "Take 1," which sounds incredibly sophisticated for a track recorded as a demo in his bedroom! The younger Hardcastle keeps the flow sweet and seductive, offering promise for an eventual solo career as a smooth jazz artist. While Hardcastle 5 isn't breaking any real new ground for Paul Hardcastle, it's still a splendid addition to the catalog.

Biography

Born: 10 December 1957 in London, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A producer and keyboardist from London, Paul Hardcastle debuted as a solo artist in 1984 and scored the following year with "19," an electro-oriented record featuring news reports and other sources on Vietnam. It became a major hit in his native country; in the U.S., it topped Billboard's club chart. Later, he produced and did remixes for artists such as Ian Dury and Phil Lynott. He continued to sell well in the specialty dance market and occasionally released records as part of the duo Kiss the...
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Hardcastle 5, Paul Hardcastle
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