Album Review: Beautiful Vinyl Hunter, Ashley Henry (Sony Music, September 2019)

Beautiful Vinyl Hunter is Ashley Henry’s debut full-length album. Having just celebrated his 28th birthday, Henry has produced an album rich beyond his years.

Listening end to end, three modes emerge on this album. Contemporary piano jazz leads off with “STAR CHILD” featuring Judi Jackson on vocals. Jackson also appears on “Lullaby (Rise and Shine),” which sounds like it came out of the Cole Porter songbook. “Cranes (In the Sky)” is an upbeat piano jazz anthem, not unlike something you might hear from Shaun Martin. My favourite track in the jazz mode of this album is “Ahmed.” The melody, rhythm, and improvisation stand up to repeated listens and remind you why the piano is perhaps the most expansive instrument in jazz music.

Henry’s second mode is hip hop, with tracks like “Between the Lines” featuring Keyon Harrold and “COLORS” featuring Joshua Idehen. They meld seamlessly into the album’s soundscape, ever decorated by Henry’s keyboard work.

The third mode is electric. Henry plays a Rhodes electric piano for tracks like “Introspection” and “Dark Honey (4thestorm),” echoing atmospheric 1970s fusion.

Already in his young career, Ashley Henry has cultivated a sound and shown us he knows how to use a range of collaborations and styles to create an irresistible work.