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Southern Living

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Album Review

The title of the Swiss-born composer/keyboardist's third Narada Jazz recording reflects the down-home spirit of his experience for the first time in Atlanta performing in ensemble with some of that city's greatest musicians, as well as an exhilarating shift from the heavy urban sensibilities of his New York-recorded 2001 hit, Soul Purpose. Getting away from the synthesizer-based sound that formed the foundation of most of his previous recordings, Bugnon strips down to the piano and Fender Rhodes in fashioning a more organically driven collection. It features some of Atlanta's most renowned musicians, who add their distinctly Dixie funk vibe to the mix: bassist Ronnie Garrett, drummers Sonny Emory and newcomer Ricardo Jordan, guitarist Rick Watford, trumpeter Melvin Miller (on the seductive cool blues-funk opening track, "Lonely Nights"), and vocalist Tiffany Davis (the moody, mystical romance "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World"). Garrett co-produced and lends his vocal talents to the wistful, elegant funk ballad "Missing You Like Crazy." Other key tracks reflecting Bugnon's magical Southern experience include the bright and lively retro-soul-driven title track; the laid-back, steamy back-porch swing vibe of "108 Degrees" (no doubt a winking nod to his 1991 hit recording, 107 Degrees in the Shade); the raw and soulful "Cascade" (featuring an irresistible thumping groove and handclaps); "Sweetwater Creek," which blends exotic percussion with a down-home light funk flavor; and a heavily '70s-colored twist on Hall & Oates' classic "Sara Smile," played brilliantly on Fender Rhodes.


Born: October 10, 1958 in Montreux, Switzerland

Genre: Jazz

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

Contemporary jazz keyboard player Alex Bugnon, nephew of trumpeter Donald Byrd, grew up going to the Montreux Jazz Festival in his hometown in Switzerland. He attended the Paris Conservatory of Music for two years, then moved to the U.S. and went to the Berklee School of Music, meanwhile performing as an accompanist to gospel groups. He spent four years working as a session musician in New York, backing urban and jazz performers such as Patti Austin, Freddie Jackson, James Ingram, and Keith Sweat....
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Southern Living, Alex Bugnon
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