Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Citrus Sun: New Horizons

Citrus Sun: Expansions And Visions
Citrus Sun: Expansions And Visions Citrus Sun Citrus Sun: Bluey + Noel McKoy Citrus Sun: Deborah Bond

The arrival this month through ever-reliable British indie Dome of the 11-track album "Expansions And Visions" impressively marks the fourth LP release from Citrus Sun - the London-based, largely-instrumental contemporary jazz group first created by Mauritius-born Incognito leader/producer Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick way back in 2000 via said outfit's debut album "Another Time Another Space". Since which time further LP releases have comprised 2014's "People Of Tomorrow" and 2018's "Ride Like The Wind". While live-wise the last five years have seen the band performing across the globe at such prestigious venues as London's Jazz Cafe, the Tokyo and Milan Blue Note clubs, plus the Singapore Jazz Festival.

Indeed, with the core of Citrus Sun comprising the Incognito rhythm section - Bluey himself and Francisco Sales (guitars); Matt Cooper (keyboards); Francis Hylton (bass); Francesco Mendolia (drums); and Joao Caetano (percussion) - "Expansions And Visions" also marks the second-album-running to find the group getting away to Southern Thailand, where they enjoyed a life of beach and boat trips by day and recording and writing by night.

Meanwhile, featured vocalists on the Bluey-produced set include Jamiroquai songstress Valerie Etienne (a driving update of the 1974 Lonnie Liston Smith jazz/funk classic "Expansions"); West London soul man Noel McKoy (a gritty reworking of the Ashford & Simpson-penned "California Soul", notably recorded in 1969 by Marlena Shaw); and US singer/radio host Deborah Bond (the soulful bossa duet with Bluey "Thinking Of You").

Elsewhere meanwhile guest musicians range from multi-award-winning British jazz guitarist Jim Mullen - who plays on the Leon Ware tribute "Stay You" plus the band's funky current US Smooth Jazz Top Ten instrumental "Hard-Boiled" - to trumpeter and flugelhorn-player Dominic Glover and 22-year-old Indonesian harmonica sensation Rega Dauna, who features on the bulk of the album including the Latin jazz-flavoured Stevie Wonder tribute "Back To Wonderland".

...Cue aforementioned UK jazz/funk legend and all-round good-guy Bluey calling up long-time industry friend (and "Blues & Soul" Assistant Editor!) Pete Lewis for a revealing Tuesday afternoon chat around the aforementioned "Expansions And Visions", whose striking and colourful packaging artwork once more comes courtesy of regular Citrus Sun designer/illustrator Mitchy Bwoy.

PETE: Let's start by discussing the new album "Expansions And Visions" and what you wanted to achieve musically this time around

BLUEY: "A lot of it is in the title, in that this album is really all about us expanding our sound. You know, basically, we were looking to really take Citrus Sun forward in America with this record. Which is why, for example, when we started doing the "Hard-Boiled" track, we approached it with the attitude of 'It's not just about making a smooth jazz track, instead it's about making something which is yours’ - you know, something which has your own identity but will still work within that genre because the groove is right and the solos are right. Then another example is "Expansions", which is a song I've wanted to cover for years. But though I've played it many times live with the various bands I've been in - Light Of The World, Incognito - I've never actually recorded it before. Because I just felt the original was so strong that, while I definitely needed to stay with the original's vibe, at the same time I needed to bring a fresh edge to it. Which is why - though I'm used to hearing a male singer on the song - we ended upbringing in a female voice, which is Valerie... So yeah, though the nature of Citrus Sun tends to be 'We're gonna jam a lot and things are gonna come naturally from that', what I realised this time round is that as a producer you can guide that looseness that's coming from creative people into something which has got a sharper, narrower edge so that in turn the record can travel to your target in a much better way. You know, I was very pleased that with this album it wasn't all about 'Throw in a little bit of this, throw in a little bit of that', and that having an actual plan sonically was very, very important."

The album "Expansions And Visions" is out now on Dome Records.

You can read more from B&S Assistant Editor Pete Lewis' exclusive interview with British jazz/funk legend Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick, including Bluey's thoughts on the band's very different version of the Marlena Shaw soul classic "California Soul", this time performed by hugely talanted UK soul artist Noel McKoy and the use of the track was personally sanctioned by original writer, Valerie Simpson. Bluey also tells us why he perfers to record Citrus Sun albums in Thailand and we find out what new projects the ever-busy frontman will be involved in next. It's another B&S interview not to be missed!

All in the latest issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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