Wednesday 30 October 2019

'Empyrean Tones' by Jason McGuiness

If you've been fortunate enough to have your ear to the ground, then the name Jason McGuiness may well already be familiar to you.  Through his Analog Burners Bandcamp page, McGuiness has released a stunning collection of singles and EPs over the years - his 'Masterpiece: A Whitfield-Strong Tribute' (2014) consisting of three songs celebrating the music of legendary songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong garnered strong acclaim with its re-interpretations of 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone', 'Smiling Faces Sometimes' and 'Cloud Nine'.  The funk of the ConSoul project (2017) paired McGuiness with some excellent musicians including vocalist Herb Larkins from Sly, Slick & Wicked; then of course there's the two-track project that proved to be the precursor to his debut full-length, 'Empyrean Tones'/'We Could Be'.

McGuiness's diverse and innovative productions through Analog Burners has proved a real treasure trove of gems over the years, but now signed to the excellent Common Good Records, McGuiness has just delivered what is surely now his magnum opus.  'Empyrean Tones' sees the producer build upon the blueprint set out by the aforementioned singles delivering an ethereal cosmic jazz journey that genuinely ranks among the year's best releases.

Joining McGuiness on this adventure are an A-list class of musicians and artists all perfectly poised to help propel the compositions on 'Empyrean Tones' to staggering heights: saxophonist Kamasi Washington, an artist revered for sharing a similar spiritual and boundless vision of jazz, guests on the strong album highlight 'Titans'; pianist Mark de Clive-Lowe, another whose straddling of the lines between jazz and electronica (as perfectly evidenced from his current 'CHURCH Sessions' release) make him a fascinating inclusion on 'Cosmos - Fire 3'.  And thankfully the album's title track, as originally created with guest trumpeter Keyon Harrold, makes the cut as another wonderful standout.

Contributions from additional artists like Phil Ranelin, Randal Fisher, Tim Felton, Seb Zillner and not forgetting the sterling work of long-time McGuiness collaborators, drummer Te'amir Sweeney and bassist Brandon Owens, all deserve to be heralded for bringing their distinctive magic to a project that succeeds as an extraordinary achievement for Jason McGuiness and Common Good Records.

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