The Columbus, Ohio based formation Urban Jazz Coalition was founded by bassist Phil Raney. Further members are percussionist Hector Maldonado, keyboardist Brendon Howard, saxophonist Richard Randolph, drummer Rich "Rico" Adams and guitarist Duane Tribune. Keyboardist Brian Skeel joins the group on the new recordings.
This album is entitled XXII (2018), what means no more or less than the group has already played together since 22 years. Their website has little information about their earlier works. We already reviewed their albums Contempo (2002), Into The Night (2003), and Long Street (2004). Further albums are Down To Get Up (2006), A New Day (2008), Gravitate (2010) and One Step Closer (2013).
One of the special features of this engaged group is that they perform since over more than two decades about hundred gigs a year, and at the same time they are proud of the attribute given to them by Michael Schivo (The Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz Festival): "Urban Jazz Coalition is the best kept secret in smooth jazz."
The first piece Roof Garden will you immediately transfer into a vivid live atmosphere, a tune originally released by Al Jarreau on his popular album Breakin' Away (1981). This hit has lost none of its creative freshness. Let's Get It keeps the vibrating note with a electrifying dialogue between guitar and saxophone.
Vintage keyboards sounds introduce into the mellifluous Soul Suite
before guitarist Duane Tribune goes into lead with sonic riffs.
Passions comes with an attractive Jonathan Butler-like guitar
flavor. On Better Days Comin' sax and guitar share the melody
synchronously, but the band really shines when every musician steps into
the limelight with his instrument.
Kenton's Swag is coded and draped with the colorings of a fine
horn section. Caribbean Sunset delivers an emotional roller-coaster full
of space for your own mental cinema of romance. The R&B band Mint
Condition released What Kind of Man Would I Be, a Billboard
smash hit in 1996. Sax player Richard Randolph passionately replaces the
vocal parts with emotional blows.
However, the full range and performance of the band develops in the live version of Run for Cover. On this recordings the bass dominates admittedly. Perceive a rare opportunity to the intricacies of the bass strings with all its nuances. The After Party delivers a glimpse on the incredibly dense and cheerful atmosphere of the live events.
Those who have not been to one of their live performances have really missed something. Urban Jazz Coalition is a top act with peak shows in the smooth jazz and contemporary jazz genre. XXII is to be understood as a chosen appetizer and as an incentive to engage more closely with their music.