Kyle Jason, Revolution of the Cool (SLAMjamz, 2005)

Hailing from Roosevelt, NY, Kyle "Ice" Jason is a singer with a purpose. Today's music is lacking both in substance and in style, and something needs to be done about it. Jason advocates a reconnection with the pioneers of jazz and soul, people who could make a good song without boasting of their possessions, and who could romance women in a smooth, classy sort of way. In short, he is calling for a Revolution of the Cool.

In some ways Jason reminds me of Andrew Roachford, an English singer/bandleader who also wears his soul influences on his sleeve. While Roachford has enjoyed a comfortable twenty-year career on the other side of the Atlantic, he's never found an audience here; his style was either too black for rock stations, or not contemporary enough for R&B stations. Jason appears to be in a similar boat, which is regrettable because Revolution of the Cool, released in 2005, is quite good. The primary difference between Jason and Roachford is that Roachford mixes some hard rock in with the soul and funk, while Jason leans towards jazz.

Assisting Jason in his task is a rock solid, and impeccably dressed, corps of backing musicians called the Soul Power Movement. (While the whole band smokes, I have to direct particular attention to bassist John Montalbano, a fellow native of Mineola, NY and alumnus of Corpus Christi Elementary School.) The album opens with "People People," a slow groove lamenting the state of music and of the world. "What difference does it make to me, the kind of car you drive? Still getting no respect from me, when all I hear about on your CD is your house (big and fancy), your car (big and fancy), your ice (big and fancy), and your women (half-naked); your guns (maybe kill you), your drugs (maybe thrill you), say what kind of world have we made for our children?" From there, the album varies in style and tempo quite a bit. Jason does a fine job channeling James Brown with songs like "Hipper Nipple" and "Hot Sauce." He and his band lay down some slick funk on "After Midnight" and "Why (Am I So Funky)"; on the latter song, Jason pays tribute to pretty much all of his influences. "Simone by Moonlight" is pure smooth jazz, while the instrumentals "Cat-O-Tonic" and "Round Peg in a Roomfullasquares" veer into edgier jazz and swing.

While I'm personally a bit partial to the more upbeat numbers, the performances on Revolution of the Cool are solid throughout. Kyle Jason is a very talent and mutli-dimensional artist with plenty to say and enough style to back what he says up. It's unfortunate that Jason seems to have fallen through the cracks, though. His official website was no longer up when I checked and, well, I'd have never even known about this album if I wasn't Facebook friends with one of the guys in the band. It just goes to show for all you music junkies out there; if you blink, you might miss something good.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

Why is Kyle Jason so funky? Allow him to explain.

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