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Issue 1083

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Review

Meeco:Souvenirs Of Love ( Challenge Records/Double Moon Records)

Meeco CD cover pic

9

6.2

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UK release date 16.02.2015

Pianist, composer and producer Meeco aka Michael Maier, has hit pay dirt with his latest album, Souvenirs Of Love.

His fourth album effortlessly mixes jazz improvisation, modern soul, hip hop and pop. A collection of eleven songs that tell stories from his life, and feature a real Whoâs Who of jazz and soul star guests, including John Scofield, Wallace Roney, Lionel Loueke, Talib Kweli, Hubert Laws and soul singer Yahzarah.

Players include bassists Buster Williams, Richard Bona and the young Dezron Douglas from the Cyrus Chestnut Trio. Drummers Victor Lewis and Marcus Baylor (a member of the Yellowjackets for many years), trumpet players Eddie Henderson and Wallace Roney, saxophonists Vincent Herring, Grammy winners Kirk Whalum and Casey Benjamin.

Guitarists are John Scofield and Lionel Loueke, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, flautist Hubert Laws and pianist/organist Shedrick Mitchell.

Vocalist Yahzarah (who backed Erykah Badu for many years) and fellow singer Jean Baylor (from Zhané) are equally at home in soul and jazz, joined by talented newcomer Aaron Marcellus.

Conscious-rapper Talib Kweli can be heard on the stand out piece "Times Have Changed", as well as DJ Stylewarz, one of the most influential hip hop DJs in Germany.

Meeco explains the inspiration behind his new record: âA collection of love songs that are all very personal to me. Each song has its own story; the tale of my heart.â It is a neat thing to have major league jazz artists and players on what is essentially an R&B album. It gives this record an edge.

Meeco is a French/German pianist, producer and composer based in Berlin and Paris. He is also an active DJ and photographer. At the age of thirty-seven, Meeco has recorded with many greats such as Benny Golson, Gregory Porter, Ron Carter, Bennie Maupin, David âFatheadâ Newman, Lionel Loueke, Talib Kweli, Joe Bataan, Jane Birkin and many others.

His four albums so far are: âAmargo Mel,â in 2009, âPerfume e Caricias,â in 2010, âBeauty Of The Night,â in 2012 and his latest. As a young child, Meeco was heavily influenced by his father who played classical piano, and his mother, a poet and artist. Making it completely natural to follow in their footsteps. Beginning piano lessons at six, and after several years of studying classical music, Meeco sought other musical outlets. It was after a friend introduced vintage Ella Fitzgerald, Horace Silver and McCoy Tyner recordings, that he became enamored with black American music.

Through Meecoâs mentor and close friend, the late New York pianist/singer Bob Lenox who had worked as a staff writer for Warner Bros. Records and performed with artists such as Esther Phillips, Pee Wee Ellis and Garland Jefferies, Meeco understood that the only important thing in music - whether composition or pianistic skill - was creating the right âfeelingâ. Working further with German producer Marco Meister (founding member of the group "Terranova") Meeco gained invaluable studio experience producing his own music.

The new CD starts as it means to go on, no boundaries and a totally natural and relaxed vibe. Vocalist Mary Stallings is the first voice we hear; spoken word sat on top of Vincent Herringâs sweet alto sax. setting the scene and the tone of the entire album. Soul singer Yahzarah, aka Dana Nicole Williams, pops up on many of the vocal tracks here and does a fine job, as do Jean and Michael Baylor on âIf Only I Knew.â We are treated to 11 original songs and five bonus tracks, instrumental versions of the vocal cuts.

Toots Hibbert and his Maytals told us âRegae got soul.â Well here, jazz got soul, and lots of it too. Lovely stuff from a big talent who we will see and hear a lot more from in the coming years, even well outside of jazz circles, I am pretty sure of that.
Words SIMON REDLEY

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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