Smooth Jazz and traditional Jazz bump heads in “Charismata The Gifts”

In a time of civil, educational, and political unrest Charismata has created a sound to comfort the hearts and minds of all generations. This album is infused with traditional, fusion, funk, and easy listening to appeal to a broader audience. Herb McMullen the head producer/CEO of Macbet Records has produced many independent projects in various genres, such as R&B, Rap, Gospel, Jazz and Classical but prides himself in the production of this new Smooth Jazz Classic. 

Catchy melody lines with well thought out arrangements determine the unique character of this project. Each song takes the listener on a musical journey flowing with improvisations anchored by relentless, pulsating hypnotic under current. The bass and drums emanate rhythms from various genres of funk, salsa, R&B and fusion. The overriding melodies and counter motifs complement  this current of masterful turbulence.  The Charismata sound was born in 1995 as many of these same musicians were instrumental in playing on various indie albums produced fro Macbet Records such as Sharon Harris, Adam Labaud, Carpe Diem, The Greatest Challenge, and many more. 

After all of these years, Herb McMullen has decided to get the nucleus of these players and celebrate their musical gifts in the land of instrumentation. Macbet Records has gotten a lot of regional, national, and international recognition in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia. Its main goal is to make this world a better place by sharing music in a variety of genres.

Their expression just happens to be Smooth Jazz with a twist of funk, fusion, and easy listening. The title cut Charismata is a moderate ballade, featuring a mysterious melodic duet, answered by haunting counterpoint. These unusual shades of color are presented as duets by the sax and guitar. With such clarity of purpose and design the tonal shadings of the production immediately capture the listener. The chorus is answered by another shade of purpose when introducing an acoustic guitar solo played by Phil Burno. 

His intriguing performance is one of delightful mastery. He surprises the listeners before returning to the main theme. In a moment of shear ingenious a micro development section is briefly introduced by a solo acoustic piano played by Herb McMullen. Phil Burno and J. Boykin reintroduce the main theme on sax and guitar. The sax solo hauntingly answers a four-note refrain as the opening  theme mysteriously closes out this piece.  Unlike most ballads the bass line is a virtuoso voice played by John Haynes complementing the chordal structure. He maintains the freedom to skillfully paint on the low register. His masterful expression stretches the limits of a supporting instrument and, captures moments of improvisation. He gives the bass a solidified voice in the realm of the basso jurisdiction. Charismata the title cut is merely a micro sneak peek of what to expect in this awakening of complex simplicity. It is purposely designed to prepare the listener for a musical journey. 

Its simplistic presentation is naturally hypnotic and, wets your appetite. Charismata is designed to calm the spirit, quench the soul and, quiet your  emotions. The entire Charismata project has extreme versatility and virtuoso improvisation that sets it in between Smooth Jazz and Tradition Jazz. It’s smooth in production but traditional in delivery. Charismata grabs the common  listener yet addresses the mature player also.  In the second piece entitled The Covering J. Boykins pulls out the Cannon Ball Sax and improvises an eight bar introduction over a hypnotic funky drum beat. A sensuous rhetorical bass line drops with shades of keyboard joining this journey of warm sizzling progression. Overlying sustained strings create a tangible ambience of expression. Darrell Alexander delivers the mystical under current on drums. His drum pattern can be described as regimented syncopation. It disguises it self as a common calypso but transforms itself into  funk.

The alternating bridge sections baffle the listener with a deliberately structured melodious acoustic guitar played by Phil Bruno. These eight bar alternating sections serve as a perfect complement to the main groove. After alternating twice the last groove turns into the ultimate call and response between the sax and the acoustic guitar. Here the soloists paint endless pictures of improvisation throughout the remaining vamp. 

While this intriguing musical conversation concludes the strings and keyboards answer each other’s in unparallel dissonance enhancing the mysterious closing of the piece. Charismata The Gifts is a project that is exactly what it suggests. The musical gifts are on display to bring joy, excitement, warmth and emotional jubilance. The third piece entitled Flourish is a highly energetic piece. Unlike typical songs it starts with a bridge intro that builds up to the main theme by a motive idée that lets the listen know the main event is under way. Now that the stage is set, a lyrically infused melody is projected by you guessed it the guitar and sax. This upfront catchy method immediately generates overwhelming interest. It is technically demanding but easy enough to whistle while walking  down the street.  Complicated simplicity is totally on display thorough out this piece. 

It ingeniously possesses two supporting bridge themes one led by a bell sound in which the sax and guitar answer the theme. In the second and turnaround theme the guitar and sax join in unison before returning to the motive idée to start the second verse. The third verse enhances the melody by breaking the unison melody into thirds before entering the closing vamp. Closing this song out turns  into a tag team between the keyboard, guitar, and sax. The most powerful force throughout the song is a relentless funk driving the entire song from beginning to end. 

Flourish ends with a unison line played by the entire band that puts a definite punctuation mark at the end the piece. It leaves the listener with a feeling of finality but yearning to hear more. Charismata consists of ten more tracks displaying many genres of jazz to attract a broad audience. It also includes two traditional pieces My funny Valentine and  Girl From Impenema performed with hip hop overtones.

Though he was featured in recently released Lifoti's January/February 2020 issue 11, you can check it from below link's for your country:

No comments