Sun by Mario Biondi – Musicvein Album of the Year!

Mario Biondi - Sun coverI’ve been privy to a lot of albums this year and thoroughly enjoyed listening to them all, but the album that I’ve played almost weekly and yet it still hasn’t died a death, is ‘Sun’ by Mario Biondi.

So why have I left it months after the release to review this album? well in short I wanted to see if I’d still feel the same buzz I did the first time I hit the play button and the answer is Hell Yes I Do!

It’s the initial brass-blasting arrival followed by Bluey’s (Incognito) announcement, that has me shadow-boxing around the kitchen, limbering up my limbs for the next 50 minutes of exertion – but Italy’s King of Jazz, Mario Biondi, proves to be a lover not a fighter as he opens up with ‘Shine On’ – “No need to look over the rainbow, cause you’ve got sun in your soul…” he beautifully declares.

What I particularly love about this album, which was produced by both Mario and Jean-Paul Maunick aka Bluey, is the snippets of different eras that you hear throughout the album. Take the first two songs, ‘Shine On’ and ‘Come to Me’, you get that Big-band/Swinging 40’s feel contrasted with imagery of Mario on stage in Vegas (Tony Bennett style). While moving onto the third song takes you into 70’s disco heaven – think Candi Staton‘s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ and Mario’s ‘What Have You Done To Me’ will take you right back there. The 70’s was also known for its romantic music and ‘Woman Woman’ is one such offering. “I wait for the dawn to break, awake with me…woman wild and wonderful, you and the sun both on the edge of coming to…” I love the words of gentlemanly seduction presented.

There’s the electronic 80’s in ‘Deep Space’ featuring James Taylor of the J.T Quartet – and classic RnB with soul singers Omar & Al Jerreau in ‘Never Stop’ and ‘Light To The World’ the only two songs that shift the focus from women to what’s going on in the world and a call for appreciation of things we have here and now.

I could go on and on about the songs of the vibrant ‘Sun’ but I cannot let this post end without reference to the musicians. Ever wondered why this album is called ‘Sun’? it’s because every instrumentalist present has their moment to shine, leaving the listener basking in the rhythm. Cast your ear to the opening bars of ‘Girl Blue’ (remake of the Stevie Wonder hit) and time the instruments in, guitar, drums & percussion, bass, talkbox (so Stevie) & electric piano, followed closely by sax, trombones and trumpets. The intro alone has you fired up and ready for take-off! Credit has to go to Pete Ray Biggin (drums) and Joao Caetano (percussion) who lead with such ferociousness on this track that you become embroiled in the beat as the song nears descent! Then they do it all again in ‘Low Down’ the fabulous duet with Chaka Khan and Bluey on guitar.

This is Mario Biondi’s sixth and dare I say it – strongest album! For me what makes ‘Sun’ the album of 2013 is the craftsmanship involved in the writing of the songs, the arrangements of the music and the time taken to produce an album of exceptional quality which will stand the test of time – this is a fine piece of art, this is real music.

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