CD REVIEW: Strength and Kindness - Somebody Else’s Nightmare.
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Strength and Kindness
Album: Somebody Else’s Nightmare.
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Vocal Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Refined Pop, Smooth Jazz
Sounds Like: Candy Dulfer, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Toto, Van Morrison, John Hiatt, Chicago
Weakness: Lackluster vocal delivery, more vocal risk-taking, more vocal harmonies, overly eccentric musical perspective
(SAN FRACISCO, CA) In an effort to fuse the intention of the compositions with the result being a remarkable 8 Track CD entitled by Jazz Band Strength and Kindness entitled Somebody Else’s Nightmare. Band consists of Joe Holiday - Bass, Vocals, Duduk, Arranger, Composer of Music and Lyrics, Artwork, Cherie Chooljian - Keyboards, Background vocals Producer, Miles Tune – Percussion, Alex Garcia - Woodwinds, Left Side, Adam Mick - Woodwinds, Right Side, except Lonely Town J. Holiday- Vocals and instruments, Adam Mick – Sax. CD was released in2014. In th words of Holiday “As the bandleader, my job is to develop a musical style, compose in that style and guide the interpretation of the compositions. The goal for this project was to perform music that was both written in “parts” and also meant for improvisation. This review is based on the bar set by the Jazz Standard.
The CD kicks things off with “Destination Nowhere” a beautiful and vibrant intro piece that serves up dynamic rhythm section, melodic jazz ambience and smooth as silk Saxophone solo, sporadic percussive accents meshed against inviting vocal delivery from Holiday. Track 2 “Yard Full of Joes” is a breathtaking follow up statement that serves up funky musical flow, impressive rhythm guitar, meshed against more honey coated Saxophone. I especially like the musical finale on this piece very compatible with the vibe. Track 3 “Worker Bees” serves up full tilt rhythm section and mesmerizing musical flow coupled with heartfelt vocal delivery from Holiday that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. The music itself has a jazz vibe reminiscent of classic vocal Jazz like Candy Dulfer, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Toto, Van Morrison and Chicago. I can also hear traces of classic Miles Davis, Grover Washington, Joe Sample, Fourplay, David Sanborn and Richard Elliot. As this CD slowly unfolds its obvious the players in Strength and Kindness are quite accomplished. Make no bones about it this is classic Vocal Jazz with a dash of Funk and Contemporary Smooth Jazz or highly refined Jazzy Pop. It defiantly lives up to its uplifting title. What I like the most about this band is how well they groove together – testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. There is a plethora of musical instrumentation featured here including amazing Jazz Guitar, solos, Flute, Jazz Piano, Keyboards, Rhodes Electric Piano, Saxophone and amazing Horn Section and well placed vocal harmonies. Some pieces even venture into classic Funk, Blues and Jazz-Fusion. Now turning our attention over to Holiday, as for his vocal abilities - he fits perfectly into this genera - like a glove. Yep this is clearly where he belongs. His voice goes down smooth and his deep rich Baritone and conservative delivery. He mostly reminds me of James Taylor behind a World Class Jazz band. Like the aforementioned; he fills the Jazz space extremely well. All players play their parts extremely well. All musical touches are brilliant and extremely melodic, the drummer pushes the natural accents perfectly and the silky rhythm section clearly gives this production a solid backbone. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board. "Somebody Else’s Nightmare” by Strength and Kindness delivers 10 classic tracks all providing deep, thought provoking wisdom with messages that are uplifting and extremely positive. All engineering aspects check out. CD possesses thick low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. The amazing lyrics to some of these songs truly personify the Human Condition. From the dynamic title track to my top pick “Drones” to jumpy “Generic Happy Song” to methodical “Snake Hair” to bluesy “Lonely Town” this CD pretty much has something for everyone. The CD ends with Track 10 ”Again Dawn” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber. Holiday sings on roughly 50% of the album.
Holiday is a brilliant composer, bassist and musical visionary, however it's fair to say he possesses an average at best vocal ability within the Jazz standard. The bar is set rather high for guys like Holiday within this musical realm no doubt. In the end I wish he took more vocal risks showcasing more technicalities like vibrato, falsetto, power and finesse. I wish there were more vocal harmonies throughout the CD as well to mix up the vocal delivery a bit better. Holiday however elects to play it safe singing on roughly half of the 10 Track catalog. I’m really not feeling the rap segment on Track 5 “The Light Will Show the Way” – not even close. Some of the lyrics and melodies are a bit eccentric, not very compatible with a mainstream audience. Some visual aspects of the CD look amateurish to me. The CD itself is not comprised of High quality Silk Screen material. Once again - this review is based on the bar set by the Jazz Standard.
After spending some quality time with Strength and Kindness playing “Somebody Else’s Nightmare” I simply abandoned all hopes of finding any serious flaws. Instead as the CD progressed I became more and more impressed. Let me go on record and this is world class musical production from start to finish - for this classic yet timeless style of music. There’s not a weak song on this entire catalogue period, in fact I tip my hat to a guy like Holiday for letting it all hang out musically. These 10 Tracks are timeless gems that are both invigorating and soulful in nature. The musicianship is first rate, the songs are short and sweet musical experiences. Each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Lastly - the singing, writing and playing abilities of Strength and Kindness are entertaining and intoxicating.
Cyrus Rhodes Rhodes