Chris Bangs – Firebird (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 42:04 minutes | 551 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Acid Jazz UK
Following the success of his 2022 mod-club, soul-jazz adventure with Mick Talbot, on 27 January Acid Jazz Records will release Chris Bangs’ compendium of dance-floor fillers and Latin dynamite.
Chris, who coined the term ‘acid jazz’, has created a new solo album of 10 tracks that takes his unique spin on jazz DJ-ing and turned it to producing an album that is totally reminiscent of the classic ‘80s era on the UK dance scene.
Recent single ‘Firebird’ (Jazz FM’s Breakfast show ‘track of the week’) encompasses a lifetime of Chris’s musical influences to present a jazz-tastic smorgasbord of bossa, fusion, bop jazz funk, salsa and a myriad selection of other jazz stylings all delivered with his trademark ear for the grooves and melodies to go with it.In 2022, producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Bangs ended a 14-year recording hiatus when he teamed with keyboard ace Mick Talbot for the stellar Back to Business, an instrumental collection of groovers. Bangs returned to the studio with top-shelf session players for Firebird, a jazz-dance scorcher that ranges across his musical influences — Afro-Latin and Brazilian rhythms, ’70s salsa and uptempo jazz-funk, and fusion — sequenced like a DJ set. Bangs’ cast includes guitarist Nigel Price, pianist Janette Mason, trumpeter Dave Priseman, saxophonist Simon Bates, vibraphonist Roger Beaujolais, and bassist Ernie McKone, among others. Firebird reveals Bangs’ desire to create a clutch of classic-sounding jazz-dance tracks he might have spun during DJ sets. He applied the use of modern production techniques to retro sounds and rhythms to propel the music above nostalgic tropes. The opener “Samba Do Sueno” was composed by Cal Tjader, one of two covers here. (Tjader cut it first with Eddie Palmieri on 1966’s Bamboleate and secondly on his own 1967 classic Along Comes Cal.) Price’s guitar playing provides lyric flair and expansive harmonics to the twinning of vibes and son montuno piano above polyrhythmic Latin beats. The storming title cut is finger-popping post-bop fusion for dancers. Led by Simon Jaffa Jeffries’s soaring Moog, Priseman adds flamenco-tinged trumpet lines and a rhythm collision of congas, timbales, bongos, and a drum kit, guided by McKone’s rippling basslines. “Dinamita” is a smoking exercise in salsa, inspired by the late-’70s Nuyorican version trademarked by the Fania Allstars. While the multivalent layers of percussion make this one cook from the jump, it’s Priseman’s multi-tracked, swinging trumpets that introduce Mason’s fiery montunos. While her left hand drives a rhythmic counterpoint, her right delivers vamps, accents, fills and a thematic center. “Ritmo Picante,” another salsa stormer, finds Mason’s electric piano carrying the vamp. Reeds, winds, and brass — arranged to recall Tito Puente’s classic horn section — wrap around blistering rhythm tracks framing the melody. The single “Sambara” weds Latin-samba fusion and disco (think mid-’70s Ray Barretto and Azymuth). The interplay between Julian Burdock’s airy jazz guitars, McKone’s rumbling electric bass, and Mary Carewe’s wordless chorus vocals creates infectiously airy dance music. “Kitchen (Cosina)” was composed by Brazilian master drummer Dom Um Romão for 1975’s Spirit of the Times. Mason’s Rhodes offers the lithe melody and strident harmonic vamp atop a jarring batucada rhythm complete with drums, bells, shouts, claps, and whistles. It’s followed by the percolating Latinized soul-jazz fusion of “Circuit Break,” driven by Jaffa’s meaty Hammond B-3, Price’s hip, Phil Upchurch-esque guitar playing, and Bates’ roaring tenor sax battling for supremacy amid the rhythm chorus. Closer “Lifetimes” is seductively attractive fusion whose rich lyricism recalls the earliest version of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever (with Bill Connors, Airto, Flora Purim, and Joe Farrell) meeting mid-period Weather Report and the Brecker Brothers in a studio. Ultimately, Firebird is a masterful, propulsive journey for the dancefloor that is equally compelling to listen to on repeat. -© Thom Jurek
01. Chris Bangs – Samba Do Sueno (03:37)
02. Chris Bangs – Firebird (04:00)
03. Chris Bangs – Dinamita (04:10)
04. Chris Bangs – Ritmo Picante (03:30)
05. Chris Bangs – Sambara (04:57)
06. Chris Bangs – East Coast (04:01)
07. Chris Bangs – Bam Bam (04:46)
08. Chris Bangs – Kitchen (Cosina) (03:49)
09. Chris Bangs – Circuit Break (04:30)
10. Chris Bangs – Lifetimes (04:40)