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Cason Fentress and the Euphonious Express Stay 'Clear Cool' on New Self-Released EP [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on May 15, 2016 03:04 PM EDT

Singer/songwriter Cason Fentress has had a long and circuitous journey but with the self-release of Clear Cool, he has finally found himself amid what could have easily been a ruined life, hampered by alcoholism, meningitis and divorce. Sure, it took him a little longer to get here but Clear Cool is the type of 5-song EP that leaves one hungering for what he could possibly do over the course of a full-length.

He wrote four of five, produces, arranges, sings and utilizes 14 musicians in an orchestral sweep of sophistication and smarts that transcends any genre notions whatsoever. His electric and acoustic piano, organ, vibraphone, marimba, Wurlitzer and lead vocals are mixed beautifully within the context of this overwhelming assemblage. Rob Middleton's horn charts and sax/flute stand out. Vocalist Clara Lofaro playfully duets with him on "Always Been Looking (For You)." Anthony Ware could play the Maceo part on a James Brown tribute as his wailing and jumping sax jive fits perfectly on the more boisterous New Orleans-styled closer "Hey Renee."

Legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal, 85, wrote "Ahmad's Blues" in 1951. It was famously covered by Miles Davis in 1956 on his Workin' With The Miles Davis Quintet album. Fentress does it up right but renames it "Ahmad's Blues/Everything Goes."

Clear Cool might be an adjective for how Fentress now lives his sober healthy life but it's so much more. Coagulating what might have been a jumble of diametrically opposed musical viewpoints, drums, bass, piano, Hammond B-3 (2), Fender Rhodes, electric and acoustic guitars, saxophones (4), flute, trombone, flugelhorn (2), trumpet, vocalists (3), cello and percussion (2) fill the five songs but do not cascade into cacophony. To its credit, it never sounds busy, just entertaining as can be. Cason Fentress is a new voice on the scene and the sky's the limit.

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TagsJason Fentress, REVIEW, Ahmad Jamal, Clara Lofaro