‘Cite Soleil’ is the debut CD from drummer, composer and producer Patrick Charles.
It threatens to redefine the accepted boundaries of contemporary jazz yet, with seven of his own compositions, another from the multi talented Johnny Britt, plus a strong interpretation of the Seal mega hit ‘Crazy’, this hip nine track collection is always compelling and totally enthralling. Charles was raised in East Orange, NJ and became hooked on jazz after discovering Miles Davis’s ‘Tutu’. Now, well established as a freelance drummer in the LA area, he has gathered together an impressive array of fellow session players and established artists to collaborate with him on the album. In doing so he has delivered some of the strongest and diverse tunes of the year. For example ‘When The Love Is Gone’ finds sax from both Everette Harp and Bobby English that sends shivers down the spine. Kevin Toney provides exceptionally good piano and the entire piece is masterfully anchored by the distinct bass of Alex Al. Toney returns again to lend a hand with Charles’s delightfully understated ‘Charlene’ but, that said, the killer cut is without doubt the sumptuous ‘Breathe’. With more outstanding keyboards from Kevin Toney and wonderful nylon string guitar from Ricky Z this one is sure to become one of the Smooth Jazz Therapy top tracks of 2008.
Despite his New Jersey upbringing Charles was in fact born in Port – au – Prince Haiti and, from time to time, he allows the French influence of that island to permeate his music. This is particularly so with ‘Kush’ where the sexy spoken word of Sandrine Fritz lays the foundation for Johnny Britt on trumpet and Wayne Linsey on keys to weave a groove drenched web. The French theme (in title at least) continues with ‘Jean Michel’. In reality the tune is an atmospheric chunk of laid back jazz that features stellar performances from Britt, Linsey and of course ultra tight drums and percussion from Charles. It is the percussion and keyboards of Charles that take the lead on the intense ‘Makendel’ which, as an interlude, is used to build a bridge to the heavily produced title track. Here Kevin Toney takes the lead on piano and is backed by powerful rock tinged guitar from Rob Bacon yet the real energy comes from the track’s intense world rhythms that merge sensationally with spicy percussion from Timbale. Bacon is equally strong on the Johnny Britt composition ‘Code Noir’. A languid beat laid down in unison by Patrick Charles and Larry Kimpel (who is immense on bass) establishes the platform from which first Britt on trumpet and then Bobby English on sax and flute make magic with their jazzy vibe.