CD - Naked Ears | Naked Ears
Naked Ears presents itself as a jazz funk crossover band, (led by bass player / composer Jasper de Beer), “with a touch of Sly, Fela & Miles...” We still remember their strong debut 'Icebear' from 2014. It took six years for the follow-up, a self-titled album, to see the light of day, and we find some slight changes in the studio personnel.
The band likes to work with different vocalists. Where they used the great skills of Joseph Bowie (Defunkt, Chicago Arts Ensemble) and Ethiopian singer Minyeshu on the debut, now they chose for Paul Isme and Nyjolene Gray to give the album voice. It appears to be a great choice, and the coherence of the seven pieces can be partly credited to their performance. That said, none of the pieces do sound the same, or are resulting into meandering. Instead, the band sounds more tight than ever and the grooves are monstrous.
Top notch vocals and excellent soloing
Both the performance and the production are letting the voices and instruments blend perfectly and not a second is wasted on boring jamming. The music constantly stays in movement and the brass-led themes are convincing. Tracks like 'Bloozin' Nine' and 'The Glorious Return' are adding the tension on the rhytmical side and it's a delight to hear how both De Beer and guitarist Gil Lopez are taking such a leading role on the lower grooves, and not to mention Lopez' excellent soloing. 'Get It Together' features very nice trumpet work from Gijs Levelt with great shifts in the rhythm underneath. Levelt also shines on the more mellow 'Lost Without You' which also features top notch vocals by Paul Isme and we praise the variety with the voice of Nyjolene Grey on the album.
Extra layers of colour are added by Patrick van Herrikhuyzen on keyboards and also Richard Heijerman plays an essential role here, succeeding in being an adventurous timekeeper with a lot of sense (and skill) for detail and power, with sections of percussion by Jasper Goedman to enhance the rhythmic language. Remko Smid, truly one of the most sensetional horn blowers of the country, closes off the album with a superb saxophone solo.
With a perfect length of almost 42 minutes, and seven very well-constructed (and performed) tracks clocking 'round six minutes each and a warm, yet pointy sound, this second album stands very well in the today world jazz funk supply.
Jasper de Beer – Bass
Richard Heijerman – Drums
Gil Lopez – Guitar
Gijs Levelt – Trumpet
Patrick van Herrikhuyzen - Keyboards
Jasper Goedman – Percussion
Remko Smid – Saxophone