U-Nam was born as Emmanuel Abiteboul in 1970 in Paris. He worked for artists such as Barry White, Honeyz, Luis Fonsi, Alsou, Kool & the Gang, Billy Paul, Cindy Daniel and CNote. that the guitarist decided to change his stage name. 

By this time you may be asking: Just how did U-Nam come up with his unique name?  It was while releasing his first CD “The Past Builds The Future” He’s long been known by those close to him as “Manu” an abbreviated version of his first name. U-Nam is simply “Manu” backwards. (“Breezin’ M.A.” takes its title from “Manu” the name of his Paris suburb, “Maisons-Alfort”, and his young son, Melvin Abiteboul.) But the name works on another level, he says. “When you say ‘U-Nam’ in French, its meaning is ‘One Soul’ in English. I guess that’s what I’m all about.” 

His new album "Back From the 80's" offers songs from the 80's and new compositions. After the first tones one immediately remarks the high professionalism of the album. That's no wonder because U-Nam is supported by the Merkevah Orchestra and the M.A. strings section conducted by Raymond Gimenes, furthermore by the Paris horns (Thierry Farrugia, Christian Martinez and Bernard Camoin). With such a fuliminant sound in the background every track gets its own noblesse.

The starting track Street Life was a huge hit of Randy Crawford and the Crusaders. “Some covers were better suited to the album since I wanted to shine the melody on guitar,” U-Nam says. “I’ve been a fan of ‘Street Life’ for many years and the keyboard solo by Joe Sample.” If you are familiar with the original you certainly remarks the identity with the original. But U-Nam's version excels with Jeff Lorber's fine keyboard art and U-Nam's superior guitar performance serving the instrumental substitute of the vocals. A landmark of smooth jazz.

Breezin' M.A. is pure Philly sound. U-Nam enhances the original sound and is kicking his guitar to fantastic licks. With Michael White on drums, Paulinho Da Costa (percussion), Alex Al (bass) he is supported by musicians of the premier liege.

Keep The Faith was composed by keyboardist Franck Sitbon in the spirit of George Benson. Franck co-wrote some tunes, played keyboards and sang background vocals. Benson is one of U-Nam’s biggest influences and favorite musicians. You will recognize his signature on more songs. This sultry song get its attraction by the awesome guitar echo of the main-theme.

Slowdown has the same grade of George Benson recognition. U-NAM uses a guitar with a similar sound and the typical reverb which is often to observe on Benson's albums. An instantly recognizable Benson riff from “Give Me The Night” pops up at the end of “Slowdown” “I wanted to slow things down a bit on this track,” says U-Nam, explaining its title.

Turn Your Love Around was written by Jay Graydon exclusively for the greatest-hits collection by George Benson on Warner Records (1976). A verse came from Steve Lukather and Bill Champlin added bridge, other verses and the background vocals. “I didn’t want to do a George Benson song where he plays the guitar out front,” U-NAM explains his cover version. “He’s an amazing guitar player and my playing is influenced by his. So I decided to do something brand new and make new guitar solos where his vocals were. I’m happy with the way the melody comes out on guitar.”

Mister GB is the final homage to George Benson inspired by his great hit Breezin'. The tune ends with a great horn section in a Big Band style.

Just A Kiss And Goodbye is a romantic ballade in the style of the 80's. A full sound with real strings, guest musicians Michael White (drums), Melvin Davis (bass) and Paulinho Da Costa (percussion) makes this tune like all others to a musical pleasure. U-Nam has worked out and arranged the details with great passion.

The influence of Incognito is presented by scatting Maysa on the track From Overseas. Andy Narell adds his steel pan flavor. To the end of the tune the song turns into a Brazilian cascade. Encore!

I Can't Help It was written and composed by Stevie Wonder and Susaye Greene for Michael Jackson's album Off The Wall (1979). U-NAM trickily polished up the original by using the Talking Box. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it at first, but the talk box sounded so great,” U-Nam says. “It reminds me of Roger Troutman and Zappa, who did the great songs."

Just Like Real Lovers Do could be a smooth jazz radio hit, but U-NAM enriched the song with guitar riffs, running and other gimmicks. I even heard an unbelievable breathed sighing á la Jane Birkin. Delicious!

Lionel Richie's “Love Will Find a Way” from his 1983 album Can’t Slow Down got a funky refinement. That album had five smash hit singles, but U-Nam instead chose the track that meant the most to him while growing up. Sweet guitar riffs are colliding with hard dance beats. U-NAM's keyboards chords incorporates many reminiscences to the sound of the 80's. That works. Highly attractive!

Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s Where Is The Love is the final highlight of this remarkable album featuring singer Frank Sitborn.

U-NAM shares so much memories with us. It's fantastic. This album is one of the best smooth jazz albums I heard since several years. Without exception strong songs, no filler. The UK Version features a bonus disc of great vocal tracks including Rahsaan Patterson and Phil Perry. My favorite track of this R&B side project is Blue Mood featuring singer Leeda and Gary Meek on sax.







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  • Title: Back From The 80's
    Artist: U-Nam
    Year: 2007
    Length: 1:01:22
    Genre: Smooth Jazz / R&B
    Label: Soulvibe Recordings


    CD 1

    01 Street Life [5:43]
    02 Breezin' M.A [3:48]
    03 Keep The Faith [5:24]
    04 Slowdown [5:25]
    05 Turn Your Love Around [4:36]
    06 Mister GB [4:58]
    07 Just A Kiss And Goodbye [6:26]
    08 From Overseas [4:28]
    09 I Can't Help It [4:11]
    10 Just Like Real Lovers Do [6:00]
    11 Love Will Find A Way [5:34]
    12 Where Is The Love [4:50]

    CD 2

    01 Love's Taken Over [5:47]
    02 Right Here, Right Now [4:58]
    03 Take Da Time [4:57]
    04 My Inspiration [6:31]
    05 Cos I Do [6:05]
    06 Blue Mood [4:54]
    07 Love's Taken Over [5:38]