BILLBOARD New York groove collective Jazzhole offers up another eclectic offering on its fourth set, Circle of the Sun. Founded by Warren Rosenstein, Marlon Saunders, and John Pondel, Jazzhole's ever-changing lineup is what helps keep its sound fresh. On Circle, the group enlists Kaïssa Doumbé, Mark Robohm, and Naren Budhakar, among others, to craft an album that is equal parts soul, electronica, jazz, and ambient. In essence, Jazzhole disregards contemporary R&B conventions in favor of musical landscapes that, while certainly earthy, are also otherworldly. Among its highlights are "A Love Thing" and the inspiring "Love Philosophy." The act's cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" takes the electro-pop classic in a completely different direction, with vocalist Michelle Lewis effortlessly gliding over a lush backdrop. While purists may balk at such a loose, left-of-center cover, it is rather sublime. A feast for the ears.
DJ MAGAZINE "Circle of the Sun" features a cover versoin of Depeche Mode's awesome "Enjoy the Silence"... Expect one of those hairs-on-the-neck-stand-up moments when you hear this one...
ALL MUSIC GUIDE ...some of the most fun and gently exciting nu-jazz around... participants include, most strikingly, the wonderful singer Kaïssa Doumbé, who shines on several tracks but really catches your attention with her rendition of the old Leon Russell song "Superstar", which she sings in her native Duala. (The album's other cover version is a subtly rendered downtempo arrangement of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence"). Highly recommended to jazz snobs and soulies alike.
URBAN NETWORK The Jazzhole collective does it again with a mellow, CD of vibe music that is heavy on Latin and Afrocentric influences. This is the ultimate meditative groove joint, 12 songs that speak to the philosophies our world needs in these times of economic downturns and Los Angeles shamefully flexing to become the crime capital of the world. Put this 12-song CD on and get back to better days.
DMX MUSIC "Circle of the Sun" is truly a mixture of soundscapes that will make it impossible for someone to pigeonhole into one specific genre. And in a time where everyone likes to find their niche market, it's great to see a project that opens itself up for the ears of a broad listening audience.
DOTMUSIC.COM Cameroon born Kaissa Doumbe changes the language on the superb 'Ndolo' and the soft bosa of the title track.
AIDING AND ABETTING Those familiar with Jazzhole's trippy, mellow soul will delight in these new songs. Those who haven't caught the train yet would do well to buy a ticket. Few can make a sound this sophisticated sound so simply delicious.
THE CELEBRITY CAFE.COM Wow! Jazz that hits you. Jazz that moves you. Jazz that is more then a relaxing dinner but something that you can listen to on the treadmill as much as at a relaxing dinner. Jump to track 5, the cover of "Enjoy the Silence" and you'll feel the beat that will keep you going on that treadmill!
CONCERT LIVEWIRE The band's artistry works best when they're mixing in ambient electronica behind silky vocals, that at times, as on the hip "Ndolo," hints at Sade on a date with Brian Eno, or when they lock into a funky jazz groove and soulful R&B vocals on "Who Do You Love?" Two of the more interesting songs also tackled here are seemingly unlikely candidates for a jazz act to cover. On Leon Russell's "Superstar" newcomer Kaissa Doumbe delivers a sensual vocal delivery in her native Duala tongue for intoxicating results, while Naren Budhakar's tabla along with Doumbe's once-again inviting vocals turn Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence" into a sexy, late night urban mating call.
JAZZ NOT JAZZ. Their sound on Circle Of The Sun is a relaxed inspired mixture of soul, jazz, acid jazz, retro, lounge and latin. Imagine musicians like Maxwell, Sade, Fertile Ground, King Britt, Five Point Plan or Incognito doing a record and you get the idea how good Circle Of The Sun sounds.
With 12 fine songs it's hard to choose a highlight since there's no dull track here and each song has got its own killer potential.
Jazzhole even did a wonderful cover version of Depeche Mode's ballad Enjoy The Silence, by the way a good idea not to go for an obvious choice to do a cover but to cover a song that's certainly more known with a pop audience. Just love Michelle Lewis' voice and the tablas on this song.
Another cover version comes with Leon Russell's Superstar that's sung by Cameroon-native Kaïssa Doumbè in Duala, her mother tongue. Kaïssa is also featured on the title track Circle Of The Son, a slight bossa, and Ndolo, a pleasant midtempo groover.
Marlon Saunders is another excellent vocalist featured on the opener Love Philosophy, a great neo-soul inspired song. His voice can also be heard on Who Do You Love?, another groovy soul/jazz winner here, on the laid-back A Little Dress For Mary and on A Love Thing. The fourth singer on this album is Lucia Iman on the slow and hypnotic Three Days.
Together with the latin influenced instrumental Um Ritmo Meu Sono, that features some fine percussion by Daniel Saddownick, we get one of the first great albums in 2003 that's highly recommendable. Make sure you get a copy soon!