of the Sun, Jazzholes fourth studio recording, finds founding
members Warren Rosenstein, John Pondel and Marlon Saunders exploring
the new hybridity of modern urban soul: a sound that incorporates
downtempo grooves and acoustic R&B, with hints of ambient electronica
and bossa nova. As much a neo-soul as a nu-jazz release, Circle
of the Sun benefits from performances by several new guests: tabla
player Naren Budhakar; vocalist and Cameroon-native Kaïssa
Doumbè (Manu Dibango, Jean-Michel Jarre, Salif Keita); and
percussion star Daniel Sadownick (MeShell Ndegeocello, Maxwell,
Screaming Headless Torsos). Refreshingly, Jazzhole remains an evolving
collective of many of New Yorks most accomplished live and
Jazzholes roster has changed since their 1994 self-titled
debut, the bands coresongwriting and production trio
Marlon Saunders, Warren Rosenstein and John Pondelhas not.
Saunders provides much of Jazzholes signature soulful sound.
Raised in Maryland on a diet of church singing, Saunders has recorded
with legends such as Bobby McFerrin, Michael Jackson and Sting.
Pondels emotive guitar playing on songs such as A Love
Thing and Superstar, draws on his many live and
recorded performances with artists such as Gerald Wilson, Diane
Schurr and Carmen McRae. John also comprises half of Verves
smooth jazz duo, Kombo. and was a founding member of the critically-acclaimed
Uncle Festive (Mesa/Blue Moon).
additional to writing, producing and engineering, Brooklyn-born
Warren Rosenstein contributes rhodes and drum programming to Circle
of the Sun. In the early 1990s, while working on seminal acid jazz
tracks Hot Music (Soho) and Jazz it Up (CFM
Band), Rosenstein drew from the rich pool of talent that was hovering
around Context Studios on Manhattans Lower East Side to form
Jazzhole, pulling in rappers KCB (US3), Ahmed Best (Stomp), Jack
Ruby, Jr. (The Toasters), as well as vocalists Ronnie & Rosa
Russ, and Michelle Lewis for their 1994 debut album on Mesa/Blue
Moon. A summer of jamming in the studio, with musicians like bassist
Scott Colley (Jim Hall, Greg Osby) and saxophonist David Binney
(Lost Tribe, Medeski, Martin & Wood) resulted in the eponymous
debut album, hailed by Music Retailing as the coolest thing
since US3 and the Brand New Heavies and Rolling Stone as the
most danceable of all the new-groove groups. This recording
showcased the trumpet playing of Kevin DiSimone on the acid jazz
classic Forward Motion.
the Feeling Goes Round, Jazzholes 1995 sophomore release on
Blue Moon/Atlantic, was met with similar critical acclaim: Infinitely
and if you dont feel the need to groove, its
time for a visit to the booty doctor raved Impact. DJ Times
added: Some of the most poetic lyrics and turning out some
of the fiercest grooves in the burgeoning acid jazz scene.
in 2000, Blackburst marked a change in direction for Jazzhole. Blackburst
saw the group mixing elements of electronica and chillout with their
soul roots, and moving away from acid jazz and hip-hop. These changes
were well-received by fans and press alike. Billboard reported:
Blackburst is filled with luscious grooves and intense rhythms
Saunders and Russ lay down sensuous riffs, perfect for late nights
with that special someone. BRE added: A yummy collection
of jazz-influenced tunes that inspire lust, laughter and lounging.
Circle of the Sun, Rosenstein enlisted the talents of many new players:
vocalist Kaïssa Doumbè delivers a melodic soft-soul
rendition of Leon Russells Superstar in Duala,
her native language, and contributes lead vocals on two other tracks;
Naren Budhakars tabla colors several tracks, particularly
the warm, organic cover of Depeche Modes Enjoy the Silence;
percussionist Daniel Sadownick anchors the vibe with congas, udu,
and bongos, helping create the Bossa flavor of tracks like Circle
of the Sun.