This is really cool review from Hypnagogue
Settle in for a pleasant ride along the New Age/jazz/world highway as Cass Anawaty and Paul Russell (the former in Oregon and the latter in Singapore), along with a host of guest musicians, conjure up some Caribbean-flavored grooves. Monjour is admittedly right on the cusp for a Hypnagogue review, much more of an acoustic work than electronic, but while it shows its late-harvest Windham Hill roots it’s also a varied, nicely constructed and overall engaging work.
The title track sets the tone with snappy drums and coursing flute soaring along with Jenny Bird’s beautiful, wordless vocals—a consistent highlight throughout Monjour. (She’s at her absolute spiritual-honey-dripping sweetest on “Syrian Siren Song.”) Ms. Bird’s voice aside, there’s also a whole host of fantastic instrumentation going on here. I love the guitar work from the two principals, along with Don Latarski, especially the cut-loose riff in “Rainy Day Diva”; Jeff Leonard’s gorgeous fretless bass work—reminiscent, to my ears, of Michael Manring at his finest—that smoothly glides its way through many of the tracks; and the spicy flute work from Romy Benton and Steve Gorn. (I hope they’ll forgive me for not knowing which is which but I honestly don’t know my bansuri from my elbow. I just know it’s a beautiful accent.)
For a long-distance collaboration, Monjour smacks of the kind of chemistry that normally only comes from being in the same room and sharing the same vibe. The interplay between instruments here sounds absolutely live-jazz organic. In fact, as I write this I’m listening to a fantastic give-and-take about six minutes into “Blue Year’s Day (And Night)”—a track I simply can't get enough of—which breaks into a very Oldfield-inspired final two minutes, creating, to me, one of the best segments of the disc. (Over repeated listens, I have become absolutely addicted to this track. It catches me at a gut level.)
The epic 9-minute groove “A Minor Grand Funk Opera,” which is a helluva title, brings out the best in all the players, even if it does indulge in a bit of disruptive hard-heavy-chord-blast drama here and there. Since I received it for review, Monjour has been a go-to disc when I need a little rhythmic lift. I rather expect it to catch its share of airplay on New Age radio shows. It certainly deserves the attention. I’ve already included it in a Hypnagogue podcast, and will do so again—while also looking forward to more from Anawaty/Russell. For those who have a feel for a jazzy excursion, Monjour is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.
John Shanahan, Hypnagogue Reviews http://hypnagogue.netfirms.com/index.htm