Listen to Switzerland-born, piano virtuoso Alex Bugnon, and it is clear that he possesses the gift of making the kind of music that is timeless. Even today, people are still singing praises of his 1991 compilation called 107 Degrees in the Shade, a CD that has spawned the breezy title track and, of course, the soulful R&B tinged "So In Love." This time around, Bugnon has stepped back a bit from the crossover Jazz/R&B flavor to accommodate the acoustically laden Going Home, and oh how sweet it is.
Going Home is the type of CD that you would want to take along with you as you make those long spring and summer road trips. It will also serve you well on those cold, rainy nights when all you want to do is to relax and enjoy some quality time with your significant other.
The CD is independently released by Alex’s own Xela recording label and features eight delectable tracks that would keep you wanting more by the end of the song set. Thank goodness for seconds, or in this case, loop infinites.
Teaming up with Bugnon for his sextet is a stellar list of musicians including Poogie Bell, Victor Bailey, Vincent Henry, Greg Boyer and Barry Danielian.
Herbie Hancock would be pleased to hear Bugnon’s version of his ever lovely "Oliliqui Valley," an engaging melody where the sextet shows off their cohesiveness. The very first few bars of "Silverfinger" would win you over with its beauty and grace as it helps to remind you why you became a jazz music lover in the first place. There are beguiling moments on this track that make you want to head out into the night just to see the band play in the flesh. Elsewhere on the CD is the melodic and comforting "Mouthra Dona Di Maortse," a track that Bugnon said he discovered after his father’s funeral. Bugnon’s own "Love Season" is baked and made fresh again on "Another Love Season," a sexy and spirited version of a track that was originally catered for lovers of contemporary and crossover music. Listen out for the cutesy "Ahmad’s Apple," the funky and finger snapping beats on "Jersey Jump," and an interpretation of "The World Is a Ghetto." "Going Home" is a delightful ballad and such a fitting CD closer; it’s like the happy ending in a romance novel. Overall, this CD shows exactly how Indie jazz music ought to be done: it is filled with many high moments and is definitely a pleasure to listen to.
The CD has already gained rave reviews from fans and jazz lovers and it continues to grow in leaps and bounds. In addition, Bugnon’s performance calendar is packed to capacity and enthusiasts can expect to see him perform in cities such as Panama City, Orlando, Annapolis and Denver to name a few - and that is only in the month of April!
Bugnon took some time between rehearsals to talk to JazzReview.
JAZZREVIEW.COM: Congrats on the new CD. What sort of feedback are you getting from it so far?
ALEX BUGNON: At my recent gigs, the new CD has received quite a warm welcome. People in their 40s, 50s and 60s that have all of my CDs were raving about the new songs. At the same time, college students that are more likely to be Radiohead fans were coming up to me saying, ‘I really dug that ‘Silver Finger’ song, man’ - which was really nice to hear!
JAZZREVIEW.COM: Indeed, that is a compliment. How would you say the CD differs from your previous compilations?
ALEX BUGNON: It is an all acoustic record in a traditional Jazz sextet consisting of a piano trio with three horns, sax, trombone and trumpet; no orchestral synthesizers.
JAZZREVIEW.COM: What is the inspiration behind the songs on the CD?
ALEX BUGNON: I wanted to do a ‘60s record a boogaloo type thing like Les McCann & Eddie Harris. I figured I would mix some of that with the kind of soul-jazz that Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Ahmad Jamal and Herbie Hancock recorded in the sixties that vibe and that sextet instrumentation (trio with horns).
My model for this album was Miles Davis’ 1959 "Kind of Blue" CD since it introduced the liberating concept of improvisation based on modes rather than traditional scales. I read how it all went down. Miles brought in sketches of things then all the magic was created on the spot with Cannonball (Adderley), Trane (John Coltrane), Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans. I felt I could achieve a similar thing in my music with the cats I had.
JAZZREVIEW.COM: I think you pulled it off well. What is your favorite track on your new CD?
ALEX BUGNON: That would be "Going Home."
JAZZREVIEW.COM: Good choice. What have you been doing prior to the release of this CD?
ALEX BUGNON: Same as always: going on the road to play.
JAZZREVIEW.COM: Who would you say are your musical influences?
ALEX BUGNON: Miles ( Davis ), (John) Coltrane , Ohio Players, Herbie (Hancock), Ahmad Jamal, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Mcoy Tyner, Joe Sample, Keith Jarrett.
JAZZREVIEW.COM: Some of the most bad cats in the game, no doubt, which brings me to my next question: When you are alone, what kind of music do you listen to when you unwind after a gig?
ALEX BUGNON: I listen to anything that I feel like hearing at that particular moment. It could be classical, jazz, R&B.
JAZZREVIEW.COM: Who would you like to collaborate with musically and why?
ALEX BUGNON: I'd like to collaborate only if the music I'm writing calls for it. Right now, I'm totally happy with the people I have collaborated with on "Going Home" --Victor, Poogie, Vincent, Greg and Barry.
JAZZREVIEW.COM: Any tours planned? What about future musical projects?
ALEX BUGNON: Tours are always being planned. That's what I do for a living, going on the road and playing for the people. As far as musical projects, I am putting together a jazz festival for 2011, which I would like to become as renowned as the Newport Jazz Festival. Other than that, to be able to keep putting out records is always what I concentrate on.