The excellent Skytown Records just keeps going from strength to strength. With the incomparable U-Nam as its primary artist the label has recently branched out to bring James Day to a wider audience and now it has repeated the feat by releasing ‘Back To You’, the sophomore album from German born sax-man Arno Haas. With only a few exceptions this tight ten track collection of all original music is written or co-written by Haas and producer Tom Saviano who also lends a hand on Fender Rhodes. The result, sometimes jazzy but always engaging, is well worth checking out.
Take for example the big, brass driven title cut that makes an early statement as to what Arno Haas is all about. It is the first tune to be serviced to radio whereas the mellifluously intricate ‘Creepin Shadows’ shows off a different side to Arno’s musical persona. It is enriched by tremendous work on piano by Randy Waldman and elsewhere the easy grooving ‘Wake Up Smile’ has a feel good vibe, which is emulated only by ‘An Everyday Thang’, that (perhaps in edited form) must surely be a contender for the next single to hit the airwaves.
Sharp and punchy, ‘Check Yourself’ gives Haas ample space to cut loose with some high octane playing but he is quickly back on smooth jazz message with the pleasantly understated ‘Just Got To Do It’. In fact Haas is often at his best when sliding effortlessly into a mid tempo groove and he does it again with the totally delightful ‘Chick Flick’ where Waldman on piano makes another significant contribution.
Yet more great piano comes from Rainer Scheitauer on the handsomely mellow and strings enriched ‘Mr. Valerie’ while later, the great Al Jarreau lends his unmistakable singing voice to the free flowing, jazzy ‘Lucky Chance’.
The album’s other vocal number is ‘When Love Is Real’. Fronted by Evelyn Kallansee it is a song that provides even more texture to this eclectic body of work. —Denis Poole – Smoothjazztherapy
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