It is safe to say that Pieces of a Dream is one of the iconic Contemporary Smooth Jazz artists of our time. In 2019, they are celebrating their 40th year in the music biz. No matter how you slice it, that is no small feat!
On Another Note is their latest offering, and it will be the band’s 23rd studio recording. When you take a listen, you will know that they are at their peak performance.
Pianist James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harman are the ringleaders of there group, and they either wrote or produced all of the tracks on the set. On Another Note consists of ten original tracks, and if you have been a fan of their smooth style, then you will enjoy the new sounds that they have to offer.
Let’s unpack and take a look at each track to get a sense of the vibe.
Review – “On Another Note” by Pieces of a Dream
The set starts off with the title track, On Another Note. Even though the bassline starts it all off, I was immediately struck by the drum beat. It is a throwback to the classic New Jack Swing sound. I am positive that it will immediately grab your attention and arouse your interest. The sax and the piano are featured here, with both instruments providing the hook and the in the verse, and the two instruments play off of each other quite nicely.
If you had to sum up the Pieces of a Dream sound in one track, it would definitely be the next track. Floating has all of the elements of a great song. In addition to the mid-tempo beat, you have Chris Harris who is playing the acoustic guitar to DEATH. Listening to him play is like sitting on the hood of your car, as you relax while gazing up at the full moon. Tony Watson Jr is on point with the sax play, and there are three distinct keyboard parts that complete the song.
Kickin’ and Screamin’ is next. Let’s put it like this: I am sure you know the term Big Band as it relates to Standard Jazz, but if you wanted to equate a Big Band sound to Contemporary Jazz, this song would probably be the definition. As the title suggests, this is an uptempo funk jam, with all of the instruments having equal time to shine. This is definitely a JAM session on wax!
The band breaks it down with Take Me There. James Lloyd takes the lead here with the piano. This is simplicity at its finest, and a masterclass on jazz piano.
If you want a little latin flair, then A Pieces Fiesta will tickle your fancy. As far as I am concerned, you cannot go wrong with some latin grooves, and the band really delivers here. The sax takes center stage, but you cannot discount the drum and percussion work. The bass keeps everything in line, and when you put all of that together, you have a groovy latin beat that will work for any occasion.
Images of Peace is up next. This reminds me of an interlude. Coming in at over four minutes though, it is definitely a complete song. This is one of those cool, laid back tracks that you can put on as you get ready for your dinner party. If you want to put it on a loop, I will not be mad at you!
The band picks up the pace once again with Rolling Along. The sax and the piano are once again out front taking turns, and it feels like a playful battle between the two instruments…..Until the piano ad libs at the end. Talk about a complete take over! If there was any doubt about Lloyd’s piano skills, listening to this song will show that he is right at the top of great keyboard players.
It seems like every Jazz album has that one track that I would love to experience live. Smooth Dreams is the track on this project. Curt Harmon is at the top of his game with the drum beats, and Tony Watson Jr’s sax rides that groove like an expert surfer rides the perfect wave. This is one of the best tracks on the album.
Real To Me is up next, and it is unique because it has something that the other tracks do not….It has some background vocals. Hey – you have to have at least ONE song to sing along with, right? The sax is out front, but pay attention to the airy keyboard sound that sits in the pocket. This song will surely grab the attention of the R&B heads.
The set concludes with Last Call. This is a real jam session, as everything is on point here. The keys are as smooth as you can get, the bassline is crazy cool, the drums lay down the foundation and the sax is like the tour guide, as it introduces all of the instrumental parts. Once you listen to the track, you will understand exactly what I mean.
Music is a funny thing, as often times artists have a shelf life if they cannot re-invent themselves to go with the changing tastes of the discerning listener. Pieces of a Dream is an act that has the ability to to stay current and relevant…no matter what decade you are from.
You can add On Another Note to your playlist, starting May 24th.