Smooth Jazz Therapy first became acquainted with the band Airborne through the excellent 2004 CD ‘Heavy Vibes’. At the time I commented that this cool Connecticut based collective was re-igniting genuine old school jazz fusion in a way that was part 5th Dimension and part Ambrosia with just a hint of Tower Of Power thrown in for good measure. Subsequently, the band’s reputation was enhanced by the 2007 CD ‘Turbulence’ and a year later ‘Winds Of Change’ hit the streets. Now Airborne is back with the equally good ‘New Horizons’. It signals a welcome return to the soulful energy, vocal R & B arrangements and Latin grooves from which the band’s reputation was originally built.
As with previous offerings, the sound of Airborne is anchored by guitar man Greg Borino, keyboard player Thomas Borino and saxophonist Thomas Sansone. These principle contributors are often supplemented by a talented gathering of supporting artists and, among these, the vocalist Elizabeth Dellinger is worthy of special mention.
‘New Horizons’ is quickly up and running with the warmly inviting ‘Sunrise’ that features zesty flute from Thomas Sansome and he is also in fine form for the easy grooving ‘Diggin The Atmosphere’. In fact ‘easy grooving’ could be a metaphor for the entire collection and this is particularly so with the band’s competent cover of Bobby Hebb’s classic ‘Sunny’. Totally different, but still worth inclusion, the Runyonesque ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ evokes the smoky jazz clubs of a bygone age and, as the title would suggest, ‘From Jazz To James’ is a rarefied extravaganza of intense jazz rhythms fused with the kind of funk that is reminiscent of JB at his best.
The cut and thrust of the wonderfully gospel flavored ‘We Are All Children Of This World’ contrasts dramatically with the sultry yet thrusting ‘A Saturday Afternoon’ while elsewhere a very different take on Billie Holiday’s seminal ‘God Bless The Child’ proves to be a welcome addition. ‘Take Me Away’ is another uplifting tune that this time glides upon an attractive Latin rhythm and this ‘south of the border’ feeling is also a feature of the energetic ‘One World’.
Finally, the ‘one world’ motif is carried over to the message laden (and closing) title cut which provides a thoughtful ending to an invariably interesting collection.
For more go to www.airbornejazz.com