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by Urban Music Scene
New CD Features Howard Hewett, Geoff McBride and new radio single, “Do You Feel Me”
Los Angeles, CA – The urban jazz styling of Hulon has returned with his newest album, After Hours, releasing February 7th, and is available on iTunes and Hulon’s website (www.hulon.com).
After the success of his debut album, First Impressions, Hulon’s newest album, After Hours, has combined passion and confidence creating Hulon’s best tracks to date. Hulon’s debut album spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Jazz Chart, peaking at #25, and featured the single “Sax on the Beach,” which reached #16 on the Smooth Jazz.com Top 50 Indie Chart, and was featured on the noted jazz website AllAboutJazz.com, in addition to receiving national and international airplay on terrestrial and online radio.
The new 11 track set includes a vocal and instrumental version of the 1977 Heatwave classic “Always and Forever,” and eight originals penned by Kashiwa that play to Hulon’s strengths as a soulful balladeer and a grooving R&B/funk player, with a few dashes of cool and swinging traditional jazz in the mix. Highlights include the sensual late night romance “You’re Beautiful,” the whimsical mid tempo light funk tune “Takin’ My Time,” the tropical chill of “Sticky Trickuation,” the sly, Pink Panther-esque “Speak Easy,” (featuring shuffling drum, bass and finger snap rhythm) and the high octane horn-driven jam and first single from the new release, “Do You Feel Me.”
Hulon has collaborated once again with mentor, composer, producer and fellow saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa. World renowned for his years with The Rippingtons, The Sax Pack and numerous hit solo albums over the past 20 years, Kashiwa again brought in some of contemporary jazz’s most powerful and dynamic players to take Hulon’s musical game on the new collection to the next level including Dave Hooper (drums), Allen Hinds (guitar), Melvin Davis (bass) and Bill Heller (keyboards) all of whom have played key roles on First Impressions.
Yet there’s much more to Hulon’s dynamic emergence onto the urban jazz scene than simple chart stats and the support of some of the genre’s best players. At its heart, it’s the story of a musical dream long deferred, and unique connections between the spiritual and emotional healing power of music and the physical healing that Dr. Hulon E. Crayton does as a rheumatologist and founder of The Arthritis and Infusion Center, which specializes in the treatment of Rheumatological diseases as well as sports related injuries. The title of one of the tracks on After Hours, the tropical flavored groove tune, “Second Opinion,” is a playful ode to his longtime profession.
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by Cyrus Rhodes (for Muse)
Florida based Saxophonist Hulon releases his Sophomore release “After Hours” CD in 2011 His debut release First Impressions (2010) and spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Jazz Charts and peaked at number 25. His debut release featured the hit “Sax on the Beach.” The music of Hulon has been compared to The Rippingtons, Kirk Whalum and Dave Koz.
The CD gently takes to flight with “Two in the Morning” an intoxicating intro piece that flows and ebbs its way through to musical fruition. This first piece serves up impressive Smooth Jazz groove against atypical Smooth Jazz rhythm, impressive harmonies and a grand slam chorus. Track 2 “Takin’ My Time” keeps things moving in the same direction with classic R&B groove, meshed against impressive solo guitar chops against a backdrop of rock steady rhythm and hooky saxophone melody. Track 3 “Always and Forever” an impressive remake featuring Geoff McBride - serves up easy flowing rhythm section, against mesmerizing vocal melody and smooth as slik groove. The CD makes a great first impression providing 3 solid musical experiences in a row. Musical textures reminiscent of the typical Smooth Jazz suspects: The Rippingtons, Euge Groove, Dave Koz and Jeff Kashiwa. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice most of the songs are very smooth and easy flowing in nature, with crystal clear high end clarity and solid low end feel. The production delivers much in the way of Instrumentation as well: with Piano, Hammond Organ Chops, Jazz Guitar, Impressive Solos, a few well-placed Percussive accents, solid rhythm section groove and world class Saxophone virtuoso. Now turning our attention over to Hulon. As far as his playing ability let me just go on record sand say he reminds me of Sax-master Grover Washington Jr. If that’s not a compliment I don’t know what is. He clearly knows how to fill the sonic space with amazing playing that flows across the ears like fine wine. The music itself goes down smooth and fills the atmosphere with what I would describe as Smooth Jazz Tranquility. All in all the CD has some truly impressive moments showcasing impressive playing, songwriting, rhythm, chops and a few dynamic grooves all rich in melody and flavor. From my personal favorite “After Hours” to grooving “Sticky Trickuation” to melodic “Backstep” to slamming “Do You Feel Me” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 12 “You’re Beautiful” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
I love Smooth Jazz but for the record let me say I would not call this music Gold Standard Contemporary Jazz. Smooth Jazz is indeed impressive in its own right and has a much more mainstream, marketable appeal. I give artists like The Rippingtons, Dave Koz and Hulon kudos for taking the edge off a million elevator rides across this country each and every day.
After spending some After Hours with Hulon it's hard to find any solid weaknesses worth mentioning. Instead as the CD progressed I became more and more impressed with the production as a whole. What I like most about the CD is it refuses to try too hard. "After Hours" is an impressive musical production from start to finish. There’s not really a weak song on this entire catalog period! The songs are infectious and catchy. Each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Last but not least - the playing, writing and production abilities of Hulon are to die for. Trust me when I say “After Hours” will suck you in like a drug, never letting you go.
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by Denis Poole (for Smooth Jazz Therapy)
It was almost two years ago, when reviewing the debut CD, ‘First Impressions’, from saxophonist Hulon, that I described him as being far from your typical contemporary jazz performer. Indeed, an entrepreneur by day and a sax player by night, he has a successful medical practice in Panama Beach, FL and is a founder member of the Florida based band ‘On Call’. ‘First Impressions’ was produced by none other than Jeff Kashiwa and now Hulon is back with his follow up, ‘After Hours’. It is due for release on February 7 and again has Kashiwa playing a significant part as writer, producer and back-up performer.
‘After Hours’ opens with the very listenable ‘Two In The Morning’ which is in the best traditions of the classic slow jam and is embellished by a soulful vocal from Howard Hewitt that works really well. Hulon retains this soulful feel with a faithful interpretation of the Luther Vandross hit ‘Always And Forever’ which, much like the original, is smooth, velvety and stoked with emotion. When he later reprises the number in instrumental form the result is just as good and elsewhere ‘Sticky Trickuation’ is a mid tempo tune with an appealing inbuilt swagger. Hulon notches down the groove for the slow moody title cut and things remain decidedly relaxed for ‘Step By Step’. It proves to be another example of accessible contemporary jazz that is lifted in no small part by stunning interplay between Hulon and keyboard player Bill Heller.
‘Takin’ My Time’ puts Hulon into a rhythmic, gospel tinged, mood that seems to suit him well. It’s a tune that is enriched by great guitar from Allen Hinds (did I also hear a few bars of ‘People Get Ready’ in there?) and although ‘Do You Feel Me’ is an instrumental, it is another track with something of a big, uplifting gospel undertone and more superb guitar from Hinds.
A further song of note is ‘Speak Easy’ where all the listener needs to do is think the theme from the Pink Panther then lock into Hulon’s slinky delivery while ‘Second Opinion’ has a good vibe, is among the album’s better cuts and is a tasty slice of smooth jazz.
However, all things considered, in terms of personal favourites it is the zesty ‘Backstep’ that gets the nod. With some nice flashes of Hammond B3 from Heller, this retro tinged number finds Hulon really getting on a role and is right up there with the projects finest.
With the added bonus of a good foundation from Dave Hooper on drums and Melvin Davis on bass ‘After Hours’ is a collection that should contribute favorably to Hulon’s growing reputation.
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by Donny Harvey (for Muzik Reviews)
After Hours is an interesting mix of contemporary R&B with smooth jazz. The two vocal tracks are very much in the adult contemporary R&B genre, while the rest of the album straddles the two. Overall the music tends to be a little funkier than your average smooth jazz, and let me go ahead and say right up front that for a medical doctor frontman Hulon sure does play sax well.
The musical reserve that's a primary characteristic of smooth jazz is in evidence on every track. On “Second Opinion,” however, the players do let their chops show a little. The interplay of the pseudo-flamenco style guitar with Hulon's sax work makes for good danceable music. In addition to being a nice up tempo selection, “Second Opinion” is also a good example of a trend in jazz that I've often chuckled over. How many times have you seen the title of a song, listened to the music, and then thought “How in the world did they come up with that name?” (Does the Joe Henderson tune really sound like an “Isotope” to you?) “Speak Easy” by contrast instantly conjures images of fedora hats, trench coats and smoke rising through the light of a street lamp. If the Pink Panther were to drop in for a quick drink, no one would question the authenticity of this music wafting into the bar from a back room.
The atmospheric “You're Beautiful” is an excellent ballad. Its simple beauty makes it my favorite track on the album. The bass meanders in sultry fashion, while the synth sprinkles high, light tones like drops of rain. Sandwiched between these extremes, the mellow melodies of Hulon's sax sing. There are many things that make After Hours a really good album. The music is well written, and more interesting than is usual with smooth jazz. The musicianship is strong on all sides (including the singers), with 'Mr Smooth' himself leading the way on sax. Sophomore albums are supposed to be downers, according to wide spread music biz thinking. Well, I think it's safe to say Hulon has bucked that trend this time around.