E-volve is the brainchild of one Red Broad (no, that’s his name, not a crass description of a person!). He is a seemingly creative producer and songwriter who’s pulled together under his umbrella a vocalist, Margo Reymundo, and a few other names with which I’m not familiar. The material is fresh, catchy, and innovative, for the most part. It is essentially electronica with a classy touch of smoothness--Jazzmasters/Soul Ballet/Sade-style.
The first half of this album is very likable. It has energy and a fair amount of imagination and doesn’t stray from that which is easily recognized and accepted by most of the smooth jazzers I know. The first tune, "August Moon," is a synthesized dream-like melody enhanced by a solid, steady beat. If you’ve heard any of the pieces on the Quintana and Speer Shades of Shadow album released some years ago, you’ll know what I mean A new age feel, heavy on synth, but not without serious smooth jazz undertones. That’s followed by "Well, I Gotta Say," a very alluring and melodious Dancing Fantasy-type of groove. E-volve is not short on melody, for sure. That’s one of its saving points. Clever sound effects are mixed in this cut for flavor and "kick." Admittedly, it’s a little monotonous with no discernible bridge or chorus, but it still has appeal. I guess it’s safe to say that the whole song is its hook. Track 3, "Couldn’t Be More Wrong," is more of the same, but with pretty effective vocals from Reymundo, who, by the way, carries a tune quite nicely overall. We pick up the funk on track 4, "By Definition: Cool." This one opens with attitude and some rather cool, well-placed, often even smoothly poetic rap. This happens as a soaring, singing, sweet trumpet played by Evan Avery, who is a prominent factor throughout much of this album, joins in. Track 5, "The Way Back" is most reminiscent of Sade and is actually a fairly memorable piece.
So it goes through several more impressive tracks. Then, we hit a slight change in direction, or emphasis, I should say. Track 8 ushers in more pronounced sound effects and decidedly more electronica than jazz. In fact, it rather drowns out any semblance of jazz. Track 9 goes even farther down that road, with angry, somewhat profane rap and other distractions. Maybe this is still part of the creative process(?), but one can get sidetracked easily here. Suddenly, folks, we’ve got a new album of electronica/rap. I have to say that, personally, I was disappointed, having settled in for some more of the infectious, remedial, even if somewhat monotonous rhythms and melodies. Track 10, "Where Were You (Sunday Afternoon)" attempts to get us back to where we were (on whatever day we were listening to this before the change!). It does so rather nicely and effortlessly, which leads one to be curious about the abrupt change in the first place! The vocals are soothing, the beat rhythmic and evenly paced, and all’s well in "E-volveland" again. Well, there are some rather odd effects and moments elsewhere, like in the last track.
All in all, this album is pretty imaginative, well-conceived, and well-produced, even though the absence of distinct bridges takes a bit away from it all, in my opinion. If you don’t mind skipping over a couple of ill-placed cuts, you might easily find this album to be a keeper. I did.