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Up Front by Michael Manson

Every time I listen to Michael Manson’s latest album Up Front, I keep hearing actress Ingrid Bergman’s character "Ilsa Lund" from the motion picture Casablanca say to the piano player in the Arabian nightclub, "Play it again Sam." The sweet nectar of Manson’s tunes is in his gelatin bass grooves. He secures the aid of a few of his friends to plump up his melodies like keyboardist/saxophonist Darren Rahn who not only plays on some of the tracks, but he also produces the tune "Bring It On" with Manson. Other key musicians on Manson’s album include piano player Jeff Lorber ("Coming Right At Ya" and "Way Back When"), saxophonist Kirk Whalum ("Coming Right At Ya"), saxophonist Tom Braxton ("She’s Always Been There" and "It’s The Way She Moves"), guitarist Nick Colionne (solo on "Outer Drive (Chicago Style)"), guitarist Norman Brown ("Still Thinking About You"), and trumpet player Rick Braun ("Way Back When"). All tracks are produced by Michael Manson and they shine with smooth melodic lesions and contemporary jazz sizzles galore.

A large component of contemporary jazz music is that the dwellings have organic movements, and Manson’s compositions never fail to keep the terrain pleasingly percolating and buffed with a clandestine fluidity. The melodic keys encounter series of metamorphoses through the chambers of the title track, which bustles with excitement. This track really awakens the senses with molten fusses in the horns and inclement rhythms, in a good way. The chord mutations and swerving motions of the horns on "Outer Drive (Chicago Style)" keep the vibe sizzling as the ardent palette of jittery keyboards and searing guitar chords enthrall the listener with its decorative wingspan. Bodies of wavy horns and tidy rows of bass shrubs emboss tracks like "Bring It On" and "Coming Right At Ya." The silky constitution and softly grazing keys of "She’s Always Been There (for Lana)" are smitten with the gently rolling totter of the rhythm sections. "End Of The Road" is a special number with music originally written by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds as Manson’s treatments of the melody bring out its smooth jazz inclinations with sectors of fluffy undulations berth by a tranquilly pleasing undercoating. The agreement in the instrument tones is steep with graceful servings and classic jazz textures.

Michael Manson’s album Up Front is a feature presentation that keeps the sequences moving and segues pertinent to the plot lines. Manson tells about the album in a press release, "In making Up Front, there were moments of great joy, extreme focus, and some very exciting performances." The general plot of the album reaffirms the power of friendships and changes in those relationships make them even better.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Michael Manson
  • CD Title: Up Front
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: NuGroove Records
  • Tracks: Bring It On, Coming Right At You, Steppin’ Out, She’s Always There (for Lana), End Of The Road, It’s The Way She Moves, Outer Drive (Chicago Style), Still Thinking About You, Up Front, Way Back When, Lovely Day, End Of The Road (Reprise), Outer Drive (Reprise)
  • Musicians: Bass players: Michael Manson, Alex Al, Mel Brown, and Marice Fitzgerald; Guitarists: Norman Brown, Nick Colionne, Ray Fuller, Keith Henderson, Paul Jackson, Jr., Gerey Johnson, Michael Ripoll, Al Willis, and Joey Woolfalk; Organist: Jason Tyson; Pianists: George Duke, Michael Logan, and Jeff Lorber; Keyboardists: John Blasucci, Tim Grant, Dave Kochanski, and Darren Rahn; Saxophonists: Tom Braxton, Steve Cole, Paul Merlens, Steve Snell, Louie Stockwell, Darren Rahn, and Kirk Whalum; Trombonist: Stephen Berry; Flutist: Najee; Flugelhorn: Jason Rahn; Trumpeters: Rick Braun, Larry Bowen, Jason Rahn, and Pharez Whitted; Percussionist: Lenny Castro; Drummers: Chris Miskel, Khari Parker, Calvin Rodgers, Oscar Seaton, and Michael White; Vocalists: Tina Brown, John Colloso, Trina Davis, Felica Coleman-Evans, Cynthia Jemigen, Gus Lacey, Armiriss Palmore, Desmond Pringle, The Choir – Robin Robinson, Roberta Thomas, and Kevin Whalum (lead vocals on “Lovely Day”)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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