9 Songs, 47 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Founded in the early ‘90s, New York’s Jazzhole were one of the original acid jazz crews. Here they look back to the early ‘70s to cover several FM staples of the day. Acid jazz is typically more about vibe, groove, and a downtempo sense of pop craft, which usually makes great background music for lounges, clothing stores, and restaurants. But here, the strong crop of vocalists helps keep this from being an exercise in dressed-up easy listening. One wonders why the band would mostly eschew classic soul material of the era (Stevie Wonder and Al Green come to mind), but they do put a new coat of paint on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” and America’s “Ventura Highway” (the latter two sung beautifully in Portuguese by Lindsey Webster). And there are also some excellent new versions of soul classics like Luther Ingram’s “If Loving You Is Wrong” (featuring Marlon Saunders) and Joe Simon’s “Drowning in a Sea of Love.” All in all, it’ll work well for fans of Zero 7, Sade, or Brand New Heavies.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Founded in the early ‘90s, New York’s Jazzhole were one of the original acid jazz crews. Here they look back to the early ‘70s to cover several FM staples of the day. Acid jazz is typically more about vibe, groove, and a downtempo sense of pop craft, which usually makes great background music for lounges, clothing stores, and restaurants. But here, the strong crop of vocalists helps keep this from being an exercise in dressed-up easy listening. One wonders why the band would mostly eschew classic soul material of the era (Stevie Wonder and Al Green come to mind), but they do put a new coat of paint on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” and America’s “Ventura Highway” (the latter two sung beautifully in Portuguese by Lindsey Webster). And there are also some excellent new versions of soul classics like Luther Ingram’s “If Loving You Is Wrong” (featuring Marlon Saunders) and Joe Simon’s “Drowning in a Sea of Love.” All in all, it’ll work well for fans of Zero 7, Sade, or Brand New Heavies.

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About Jazzhole

A mixture of soundscapes, electronica, and classic R&B, the acid jazz duo Jazzhole is led by founding members Warren Rosenstein and Marlon Saunders. Maryland native Saunders is the group's singer; influenced by both gospel and R&B recordings at an early age, Saunders attended the Berklee School of Music, where he discovered his love of jazz. Saunders eventually found himself singing on other artist's records, including such notables as Bobby McFerrin, Michael Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, and Sting. Native New Yorker Rosenstein, on the other hand, serves as the group's engineer, songwriter, keyboard player, and sampler. After working on such early acid jazz tracks as Soho's "Hot Music" and the CFM Band's "Jazz It Up," Rosenstein sought to form his own outfit and soon hooked up with Saunders, forming Jazzhole in the early '90s. The newly formed duo recruited numerous other musicians to lend their talents to what would be Jazzhole's debut recording, including rappers KCB (of Us3), Ahmed Best (best-known for playing Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace), Jack Ruby Jr. (vocalist of the Toasters, son of reggae producer Jack Ruby), Ronnie Russ, vocalists Michelle Lewis and Rosa Russ, guitarist John Pondel (of the group Kombo), bassist Scott Colley, and saxophonist David Binney. A recording contract with the Blue Moon label (a subsidiary of Atlantic) followed shortly thereafter, as Jazzhole's self-titled debut surfaced in 1994, as the group was often compared to the likes of Us3 and the Brand New Heavies. A year later, Jazzhole's sophomore effort appeared, And the Feeling Goes Round, while their third release overall appeared after a five-year layoff in 2000, Blackburst. ~ Greg Prato

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