Saxman Arno Haas is quite the seasoned musician, having an international reputation as one who graces the stage up to 250 times a year with various formations. Here on Back to You, his sophomore release (his debut recording, Magic Hands, was released three years ago), Haas works what he terms as the current fusion jazz styles relentlessly and with precision.
There’s a bit of something for every jazz lover here as the saxman strolls and bounces about from the light & airy to the R&B/jazz slow jam to the hot & funky stuff c-jazzers so love. He demonstrates his in-depth feel for all things jazz via a crystal clear and definitive sax style and great vision, and you can hear the fun he has with this material.
Haas is working with a considerable number of support musicians on this project and has even enticed world-renowned vocalist Al Jarreau to offer his distinctive pipes on a snappy little piece called “Lucky Chance.”
Most of the tracks here are penned by Haas or co-penned with keyboardist Tom Saviano. There are also two tracks offered by his bassist Alvin Mills. The material is steady and satisfying, and no track loses the listener for one second. When Haas uses the label “fusion jazz,” it appears to mean only that he has incorporated various styles on the album and not necessarily within one track. Very big difference there. For example, you can hear the variety of styles between the lively & upbeat horn-heavy funky lead and title track, the sedate, rather bluesy “Creepin’ Shadows,” the classic Al Jarreau jazzy signature bounce on “Lucky Chance,” and the R&B/jazz fusion of “When Love Is Real” featuring the powerful vocals of Evelyn Kallansee…and there’s much more of this to enjoy on this album.
With this diverse album of jazz styles and feels, Haas should make quite the impression with smooth jazzers everywhere. He’s certainly made one with me. – Ronald Jackson
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