Album Review: Clementine Sun, Khari Cabral, February 2012

Who? I happened upon Khari Cabral’s name while reading an interview with Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick of Incognito. Maunick, a musical hero of mine, collaborated with Cabral on this album. Anything Bluey touches is usually gold and it is true for this record.

Clementine Sun manages to put jazz, Brazilian, and soulful jazz-funk together in a way that is completely digestable in a single album. Several tracks have a Brazilian vibe, including the title track and the exquisite “Major Bossa,” sung by Sabrina Malheiros, daughter of Azymuth guitarist Alex Malheiros.

Cabral built a profile in the Atlanta ‘smooth jazz’ scene, collaborating with artists like India.Arie, and eventually becoming her musical director. India.Arie is featured here on the bossa-inspired “Never in Your Sun.” JazzTimes magazine describes Cabral as ‘the prince of soul bossa.’

Beyond the Brazilian sounds, there are distinct jazz and jazz-funk tracks. “Coolamon Waltz” is a nice keyboard and vibe arrangement in three-quarter time. “Ninos,” a collaboration with Allman Brothers bassist Orteil Burbridge, is a jazz fusion track that strongly evokes Pat Metheny. On the jazz-funk tip, “Get Back” is a light-hearted tune featuring the vocals of Chantae Cann.

An album as eclectic as Clementine Sun can sometimes come across as disjointed. What’s more, the bossa nova revival that started in the 90s has lost its legs and feels less and less authentic in recent music. Despite the headwinds, Cabral pulls it off. The jazz elements of this record provide a nice contrast to the Brazilian sounds and make the album more listenable end-to-end.

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