Sunday, 23 September 2012

An Evening With Kai Brant

Album Review
Kai Brant (featuring Martin Motnik) - The Way You Look Tonight
Genre: Jazz

In this new compilation of standards from stage and screen, Kai Brant tackles some of the biggest, most classic songs ever written. If you recognise the line-up, you might find yourself feeling a bit old, but Brant's voice and stylings make you feel young again - like it's the first time you're hearing these saucy old-time ditties. Brand new, all over again! Add to it the brassy tones of Martin Motnik's fretless bass, and you have a collection of tunes well worth an all-night listen. And maybe into the next day, too.

Brant sings the standards true; the melodies are as they should be. That soothes me with a real sense of comfort. When I hear a classic being sung anew, I want to be able to sing along with familiar confidence. Brant delivers all the necessary attitude and experience, and I go right back to the olden days, smiling that the lady has done right by these timeless tunes.  Yet, there are those moments when she strays just enough from the path to add some real kink to the story-telling. When she throws in a change, and I continue to sing the original melody, she and I come together in vocal harmony, and it draws me even further into the experience. I become part of her performance. It's as if she chooses new and different tones for the sole purpose of inviting me in.

You and me, Kai Brant. You and me. Let's shake it out a bit with "The Way You Look Tonight." Attitude rubs off, don't you know?

Featured bassist, Martin Motnik's choice of a fretless electric instead of a stand-up brings an entirely new feel to the music. He's got his mwah on big time, but since Motnik plays the stand-up as well, the mwah is guided by the hip-swaying authenticity of the big bass, and it works. Oh yeah, it works. Such a noticeable presence to complement Brant's voice. I swear to you all, on the last track, George Gershwin's 's Wonderful, Motnik's bass actually seems to pronounce the lyrics during his solo in the middle. The fretless just sings sweetly to us. Listen to it and tell me you can't hear it singing 's Wonderful.

Add to the atmosphere some fine, delicate piano and jazzy snare brushes, and you have a special evening before the fire, slow dancing with the one you love. Close your eyes and you're there!

Here's the album's line-up:

01 - Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets
02 - Summertime
03 - The Way You Look Tonight
04 - Manhã De Carnaval
05 - Why Don't You Do Right
06 - My Funny Valentine
07 - Feeling Good
08 - Besamé Mucho
09 - Autumn Leaves
10 - 's Wonderful

If you know these tunes, you probably already have a favourite singer and a favourite way you remember each one. Do you prefer Dinah Shore? Ella Fitzgerald or Eartha Kitt? Maybe a newer version. Maybe some Norah Jones? Pick any of the classy ladies (and sometimes men) who have delivered these numbers throughout the years. Kai Brant and her performances on this album are destined to find their place on that exclusive list.

I'm known to say things like, "I love the Eartha Kitt version of Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets", but from the first listen of The Way You Look Tonight, I will now add to my critique, "Have you heard the Kai Brant version?"

She's a new standard with the standards!

I recommend "The Way You Look Tonight" to all lovers of beautiful music and beautiful voices.

© 2012 C.L. Seamus for Thunder Row

Visit Kai Brant online.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Brad Russell - Let's Hear It

Album Review
Brad Russell - Let's Hear It
Genre: Rock

Brad Russell's debut solo album, "Let's Hear It" (featuring Joe Satriani and Gregg Bissonette) is six mind blowing tunes that just might change your mind about the role of the bass as a support-only groove. Russell puts his 4-string Warwick through a gruelling pace as lead instrument, with his tremolo bridge, effect pedals, loopers, and all! The result is a barrage of thunder-laden bombshells that are guaranteed to resonate deep down in the heart of bass players everywhere.

Though Russell's website lists the impressive roster of musicians with whom he has worked, this is his first voyage down the solo road and every song on "Let's Hear It" is a smoker. Get ready for the bass like you've never heard it before!

Opening song, Seven Shred, explodes out of the gate with an intensity that leaves you demanding more! It's hard and heavy on the bass, but also has a tasty melody to flesh out that thunderous bottom end. Bissonette on drums is a wonder on every song, but this one is my fave of all his performances on the album. It demonstrates the real meshing between drums and bass.

Second up is the bassiest, most aggressive version of Michael Jackson's Beat It that you'll ever hear!

Third song, Zattack, is unbelievable; it starts with a serious riff-off between Russell and Satriani - a scorching contest that reminds me of the Butler/Iommi showdowns on N.I.B. After that, Russell shows us big-time what a bass guitar can do on its own.

Here's a video of the solo bass version.

Brothers is what I call the "ballad" of the album. Slow and psychedelic, very sweeping. To me, Russell is what David Gilmour would sound like if he played bass. There's also a magnificent, crying guitar solo by Kevin Russell. To these ears, this song is the most emotional, fiery piece of the album.

Next is Hello Jeff , which starts out with a fast and funky slap, but then eases on down to a very growly, teeth-grinding bass mix. The sounds go back and forth in grove after groove of pure foot-stomping thunder! It's also another of those great partnerships between Russell and Bissonette.

Closing up the session is Native Tongue, featuring Steve Kindler on the electric violin. What a great add-on to an already mind-bending sound. The bass in this song is melodic enough on its own; blend in that violin and you have a soaring finale to an album of delicious bass creations that set the bar higher (and lower) than it's been before!

I highly recommend wrapping your ears around Brad Russell's "Let's Hear It".

Available on Digital Nations, Amazon, iTunes, and wherever the thunder rolls!

© 2012 CL seamus for Thunder Row


Brad Russell's YouTube Channel - he features videos as well as some helpful bass tips! Be sure to drop by!