The two CD set features some of the hits that made the Stones the powerhouse blues, rockers that they are. Kicking it off with "Baby Break It Down" you are thrown back to another time, the laid back sensual saxophone tone of Ries breaks apart the nostalgia. A smooth jazz melody rides over the funky rhythm. A soulful vocal line purrs into view, a good time feel with mellow vibes and a pure sound catches you. You are pulled along as the song builds to a jazzy climax with rock infused electric guitar wailing care of Keith Richards.
The extensive liner notes by Mr. Ries indicate the idea of this project leans heavily on his exposure to wonderful world musicians while living in New York. The fact that he toured with the Stones all over the world gave ample opportunity to record with some great musicians from those visited countries. All of the songs have the countries of origin next to the title. The second track of disc one "Under My Thumb" has a salsa feel and is labeled as Puerto Rico, the notes mention that this is Tim Ries first Salsa arrangement. The next track, "Hey Negrita" was recorded with an African group and is labeled, Africa. And so it goes as you travel the world from Spain, through to Portugal, over to India, the Middle East, Japan, Brazil and the U.S. of A.
There are many excellent performances and some memorable arrangements of classic pop standards. A few of the more notable include a gorgeous vocal performance by Portuguese singer Ana Moura on the tune "No Expectations", she also adds her delightful touch to "Brown Sugar" with sweet results. The instrumental "Angie" with a great rhythm care of some fine tabla playing by Badal Roy. The rhythm section of Greg Hutchinson, Clarence Penn (drums), John Patitucci (bass) and Michael Holober (piano) add some spectacular dynamics. Front men Tim Ries (soprano sax), Ben Monder (guitar) and Michael Davis (trombone) compete for the prize with glorious playing.
"A Funky Number" is the only composition credited to Tim Ries. The melody line is similar to "You Can’t Always Get What You Want". This is a very exciting performance with smoking tenor saxophone runs by Mr. Ries. Larry Goldings is cooking with some cool tones and choppy rhythms on organ. Kazumi Watanabe plays some jazz guitar under rockin’ guitar by Keith Richards. The swift and sure fingered trumpeter Terumasa Hino plays a mean trumpet.
Stones World: The Rolling Stones Project II closes in a fitting manner with "Lady Jane". A strange tune for the Stones, perhaps a little history lesson upon their British royals rock like love lives. With Brazilian singing legend Milton Nascimento taking the lead vocals, the song reminds one of a tragic stage play. A romantic, yet hauntingly sorrowful vocal performance ensues.