Creative Loafing is quoted as saying:
"'Cool Breeze' "is good music for those hot sweltering days."
I bought this album on an uninformed whim last week at Seymore Johnson Air Force Base in Havelock, NC. Looking for one of our sunny afternoon jazz excursion, my girl Gina and I started out before the sun broke. Just cruising, my baby and I, top out, wind in our hair, we stopped into the base exchange along the way to see what was up. Never personally experiencing what Bob had to offer, we crossed our fingers, paid the man, and headed for the beach. A few miles out, "G" says to me, "This is going to be a good one". What my girl was eluding to was the CD "Cool Breeze" in general and the first cut, "Give In To Love" specifically.
"Cool Breeze" is so cool that it will definitely warm the hearts of ANY contemporary jazz piano lover.
With Bob's opening conglomeration, it was clear to us both that we had stumbled upon something special, it was like opening up an oyster and finding the proverbial pearl.
"Give In To Love" is as smooth as you would ever hope an opening song would be. It begins with a slow groove and remains so all the way through. Trying to read the gauge from this CD, it's a nice warm-up to the rest of the album. The first thing that struck me was the clarity and crispness of the way Bob tickles the keys and how he switched back and forth between the traditional piano and it's electronic counterpart. It seems as if there are two people playing at once. The bridge falls right in place and makes for a good segway to the solos.
"Dedicated to all of the young R&B lions who are lifting their finger off the button and helping to keep musicians working."In this, he speaks of M'Chelle, D'Angelo, and Maxwell in particular.
Inside the CD cover, Bob includes his own definitions of what he thinks the title to his new album represents:
1)not easily excited or flustered.
1) a light current of air: a gentle wind,
2) something, such as a task, that is easy to do.
It was a picture perfect day, our little beach excursion. As we roamed further eastward, it became perfectly clear to us that our trip and the CD would have something in common. What that something was would be soon revealed, just as the sun behind this morning's fog.
By the time the second cut came aboard, we were at full song. Quite appropriately named, "Summer Breeze" blew through the woofers and took our minds back to the days when the melody first debuted. A cover of the Seals and Crofts tune, and in fact, one of my personal oldie and goodie, I like how Bob and Marion ran this one up. Oh yes, did I fail to mention that Marion Meadows gives us a hand on this CD. Bob says that he is one of his "boys" from the old school. The way Marion makes his entrance on this CD is right on time and with a sound of his horn that reminds me of those snake charmers from India. Blow Marion!
On the four lane now and running digits that may send us somewhere unplanned, the 4th cut came on, "Bahia Maria" . Bahia is the Spanish word for island and we were off in our own four wheeled one, secluded from others and surrounded by the vibes of Bob. Jonathan Widran of Jazziz Magazine (I like these folks) says:
" The exotic, blues-tinged "Bahia Maria" reflects Baldwin's lifelong love of Latin and Brazilian music..."Perfect timing for the course our morning was going. Groovishiously, this cut had us on "da Pump" for the next 10 miles, hitting the repeat button a couple of times for a retouch. The high point is Bob's solo midpoint. Here is where Bob took hold of me. As I said eariler, I hadn't been exposed to his music before and when he went off and bounced my Bose, I was hooked. Bob comes across much like Joe Sample in the sharpness of note and delicate of touch. Tad Gulley on the skins only adds to the urgency. The song ends with Bob's keyboard set to wa-wa and everybody having an appreciative good time.
Track 4 appears to be the favorite of "G". We purposely don’t look at the song titles before we have already gotten into the groove of things. This gives us the opportunity to sample the flavor and compare that with the title’s intent. This cut entitled "People Make the World Go Round" is but the first of many covers that Bob does exquisitely. During this cut, the note play between Marion and Bob is very tight and quite enjoyable to listen to. On the down load through the coastal forest, this groove had people’s heads going round to see who and where Bob’s magic was emanating. As the track ends, Marion gives us a few notes to remember him and the song by.
During the next track "Ties That Bind" we were back in the wind. Eastbound again, 70 on . This is another good song for those highway occasions where Bob attempts to chair bop us both right out the door and onto the road. He gives the lead to Larry Corell who is listed inside the cover as playing the "Smmmmooth Electric and Funky Acoustic Guitars." "Ties That Bind " is definitely a smooth passage of time and space.
From this juncture, it’s a short jog to the next tune "Walk On By". Written by Bert Bacharach and sung by Dionne Warwick, there is reason for the inclusion of several cover tunes on this CD.
"Certain tunes give both me and my audience a certain warm fuzzy feeling and the key is to take those songs to another level, so people can reflect on their memories while enjoying a new challenge. There's a certain connection which can bond me with the listener, a reference point we can both relate to."
Now to the meat of the CD, where the rubber meets the road. "Hot Fun In The Sun" made it’s entrance just as we were arriving oceanside. As we circumnavigated the circle at Atlantic Beach, “G” reaches over to add a little more spice to the speakers. THIS JAM IS BADD!! Forrest Robinson had the hi-hat hoppin’ and Marion blew his horn till boppin’. We broke the roll down to slow and let the tourists tour Bob, Marion, me and "G" while I spun into the lot for some well deserved park. We came in loud and clear with Bob's awesome keyboard work setting the lot on look! Hot fun in the sun! We had arrived and everyone knew it. This is the type of groove that makes you want to say “GO HEAD” like we do at the concerts. You know the deal!
This saucy single is followed up by another monster jam . "Vi's Pies" is a culinary delight dedicated to Bob’s home cooking mother. From the jump, you can visualize Vi in the kitchen, apron on, pumping out flavors as delicious as its noteful namesake. Vi's Pies and the block boys would get along just fine. After dismounting the Trans Am trans p.m. and gapping the gate, “G” pulls out a basket full of her own food for the soul while she body rocks to the last strains of “da pie”. In my opinion tracks 7 & 8 make up the proverbial bomb to Bob Baldwin's “Cool Breeze”. We spent the rest of the afternoon cooling in the breeze of the Atlantic but the finale to our just purchased CD was still to come.
After a fun fine day in the cool breeze of the sea side landscape we decided to call this episode quits. It was about an hour before sunset that we loaded the front seats and "G" asked why so soon. I had a plan up my sleeve and by looking through the play list (I peeked), I had an inkling that Bob had his sleeves full too. Off and crossing over the beach bridge, I had no time to spare. Sun setting fast, I tried to wait before rebooting the last of Bob. Where I had in mind to interlude for the evening was further away than a track or two would reach.
With "G" patiently riding the shot, we get back to the National Forest. With my plan unfolding, I punched play to see if Bob was in tune. Song 9, "Cool Wind Blowing" was right on que. I arched the T/A through the apexes till we got to "the spot" (some of you may relate). The sun sitting on the Neuse River and Bob's slow jams in the background could not have made for a better painting. Again I must attest to how honestly Bob describes his music.
"As with all my music, there is an underlying spiritual overtone, especially on "I. Give Unto You", "Be Encouraged" and (the first cut), Give In To Love", of which is the basis of my Inner Peace through God's underlying love and patience for me".
Inner peace? Bob's does not do credence to how smooth "I Give Unto You actually is. As a whole, tracks 10 and 11 are a couple of soft and tenders for the soft and tenders. Track 12 underscores the entire CD, being a quieter version of Ties That Bind . Thanks for a lovely sunset Bob.
We get back to town, shower, and reflect for an hour. I myself "cogged" two things that day. One, Bob Baldwin is an accomplished artist. It's always refreshing to discover fresh "new" music when the timing is right. I know "Cool Breeze" and the rest of the Baldwin compulations will make a welcome addition to my already bulging music collection. You should include these too.
The second thing that slaps the synapses is that I've found quite a jazzy little soul mate. The Neuse made that clear. When two have been making one for longer than a few, once in a while realization hits you and you're born again.