Multi-Instrumentalist award-winning Americana singer-songwriter and producer Phil Madeira is releasing an instrumental jazz album Crickets on April 26th. The audible pin drop notwithstanding, noodling at jazz and blues is how Phil Madeira relaxes when he’s not in the spotlight. It’s an energy born of passion and content. The songs are cohesive. The quintet blends each into the other without distraction. The songs are unique enough to keep you interested. This is a good album. It has great energy. Phil Madeira describes the songs on Crickets as “straight-ahead jazz rhythms and bluesy harmonies”.
There are hints of Phil’s early influences like Ramsey Lewis and Herbie Hancock. Monk weighs in heavily as well. The opening song “Sirkka’s Dream” has the most sophisticated vibe on the album. “Cut It Out” has a nice groove that alternates between upbeat piano, smooth guitar, and cool horn solos. The title song “Cricket” is punctuated by horns throughout a hopping piano groove that captures a bustling energy. “Teamwork Salad” rolls like a well oiled machine. The piano, saxophone, and electric guitar features heavily, each without stealing the show. A nice upright bass solo before the last turnaround provides the right amount of interest. “Rollin’ with Oti” is funky, “Last Call At Bovi’s” drives you to tap along, “Swingset” swings, and “In Walked Willis” has swagger. The songs on Crickets evoke a vintage jazz vibe and “Jazz Hands” certainly has the feel of the sixties. “Coming Home” has that comfortable feeling of getting back to the things that matter. In all, the ten songs on Crickets provides a soothing backdrop to whatever’s unfolding. Not a bad ace to have up ones sleeve these days.
Recorded live in one day, this jazz quintet found a pocket and stayed in it throughout the session. Phil Madeira produced, wrote all the songs, and plays piano on the album. The song “Cut It Out” as well as the song titles are co-written with co-producer Sirkka Svanoe Wood. Wood also provided the cover painting. Aaron Smith is the drummer and Chris Donahue provides upright bass as the rhythm section for the album. Rahsaan Barber plays saxophone. James Hollihan, Jr. plays electric guitar on all tracks but 1 and 10. Roland Barber plays trombone and trumpet on tracks 1, 5, and 10. Sean Sullivan recorded the album at Compass Studio. Richard Dodd mastered the album and Phil Madeira mixed the album at Planet Of The Tapes. This isn’t the first jazz album released by Phil Madeira. Last year his album Providence landed on the Billboard jazz albums chart. The songs swing.
There is a constant motion. I admit to having no business reviewing a jazz album. I can’t compare Crickets to any of the great jazz artists making waves today or in the past. I have a good ear and in removing the “jazz” label I’ll review this for what it is, a well done album that entertains and lifts your spirits. At times it evokes memories from childhood. Perhaps it’s the Ramsey Lewis vibe inherent in the Charlie Brown specials I watched as a kid. Damn that Charles Shultz for incorporating intricate music into children’s programming. Phil Madeira thankfully stepped out a bit further and explored his inner Monk and has successfully set his place at the jazz table.
- Viola Krouse