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3rd Force – Global Force

One of the mainstays of the Higher Octave label, 3rd Force is an instrumental trio composed of multi-instrumentalists William Aura (also the group's producer and chief composer), Craig Dobbin , and Alain Eskinasi , plus varied and frequent guest musicians. 3rd Force is considerably more eclectic than most artists who fit into smooth jazz radio formats; in fact, their work often straddles the line between smooth jazz and dance-heavy, electronic-tinged acid jazz, sometimes incorporating ethnic influences as well.

Back to flood our c-jazz senses and grooves is the wonderfully solid and signature sound of 3rd Force with their new release Global Force.  Since the 90s, the duo of William Aura and Craig Dobbin has been captivating and capturing smooth jazzers the world over with its melodic fusion of funk, jazz, and consciousness-raising compositions, often with inviting appearances by such greats as Peter White, Boney James, Rick Braun, and Craig Chaquico.

This time around, after surviving the demise of their label Higher Octave and a fickle music industry, and after suspending their music to pursue other successful and meaningful careers, the duo returned to the studio to simply… play… music. No high and lofty philosophical underlying motivations or themes. They simply missed sharing their musical essence with fans and all listeners of great c-jazz.

As Aura states, “We had separated for a long time and were both quite ambitious in our different worlds; so, to even come back together is a miracle in itself considering how busy we were. We actually like experiencing our own music and wanted to see if the magic was still there. When we started playing, it was unlike anything we had ever done before.” A big Amen to the magic, which is more than evident and such a refreshing gift to those of us who have longed to keep the gift of creativity and innovation alive and kickin’ in this genre.

From start to finish, there is so much to love about this album: The melodies, the rhythms, the sense of a phat, “whole,” sound, and of course, the skill and effort put into it all. Horns blaze brightly (saxman Derrick Edmondson and trumpeter/trombonist Mitch Mannker clearly bring their “A” game), keyboards and piano sing eloquently and with feeling, the flute calls ever so sweetly, and guitars guide us through the becoming collage. The entire project is just so alive.

Joining the duo this time are guitarists Brian Hughes and Lawson Rollins, as well as a host of Nepali musicians who bring with them exotic instruments and styles (e.g., bansuri flute, tabla, and sarangi).

An album full of originals and one cover (Sting’s “We’ll Be Together”), the sensuous groove here is simply undeniable and unavoidable.

Tracks range from poppin’ funk (“Big Shot,” “Breakout,” “You Are the One” and Sting’s “We’ll Be Together”) to the crystalline beauty of “Carry On” and “Day Into Night.” Nothing here is without the capacity to move you.

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Fourplay – Silver

Any band in any genre of music, be it rock, country, classical or jazz can't make it two and a half decades based solely on pure dumb luck. Fourplay defied the critics who dismissed them as pop schlock when they debuted in 1991 and shook off the haters who never thought they would still be here 25 years later. The secret for the quartet's staying power is right there in the name: Fourplay. Four talented, versatile and experienced master musicians playing together. Nobody is the frontman and nobody is first among equals.

The the major takeaway from Silver - Released: Nov 20, 2015 - is simply this. Fourplay is not Bob James and his backup band or the Harvey Mason Quartet or the Nathan East Group or the Chuck Loeb Crew. Fourplay is, and has always been a band, and one of the most enduring, accomplished and greatest bands in jazz. Silver is as much a proud statement of resilience as it a triumphant celebration of achievement.

 Silver Track Listing:

Quicksilver

Horace

Sterling

A Silver Lining

Silverado

Mine

Silver Streak

Precious Metal

Aniversario

Windmill