Aaron Aranita

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Primary Instrument: Saxophone

Born: October 14, 1955    

Jazz Saxophonist and Pianist Aaron Aranita a professional for 30 years has recorded three CD’s of original jazz compositions since 1987 to the present. He has written more than 100 jazz compositions and is currently writing and arranging for an up and coming Big Band CD recording on Sugartown Records. Other Jazz artists recording his compositions are Saxophonist- Paul Fleisher and Harvey Thompson ( “Bird Is The Word”).

Among the awards and accolades he has received are the Billboard Certificate of Achievement for Jazz Composition for his tune, “Gregoria“ (1988),

In 2001 Aaron Aranita and Eastbound released “One Day”, a CD of 14 of Aaron’s original tunes ...
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I have been privileged to review two CD’s by Hawaiian multi-instrumentalist Aaron Aranita on this site. This latest release contains tracks from the “Eastbound” CD, together with sessions recorded in 1989 and 2004/5, and is a musical resumé for this talented guy.

The pretty latin dancer Jazzamba is a fresh opener featuring some lovely clarinet work. In some parts the timing is not rock-solid but that just seems to reinforce the “live” feel which adds to its charm. I feel like I’m hearing two trumpets here ��” and they’re both fantastic. A flute plays and I’m captured. Dance, dance, dance! Kekaha is a funky instrumental which again has a nice, loose “live” feel. I especially like Anthony King’s drumming on here and also Bill Valaire’s jazz-rock guitar solo which in a way shouldn’t work but which fits perfectly.

The same very natural feel is there on You are a Dream. This beautiful ballad is from one of the later sessions and the dreamy sax is augmented by superb piano and very well chosen string samples. I found the drum sound on Never Say Never and the multi-tracked sax a little tiring. Yes, the carnival atmosphere is captured but there is so much going on I find it hard to get involved.

Aranita brings the clarinet, sax and flute alternately to the fore on the lilting and lovely Where the Wind Blows. This has a romantic and old-fashioned feeling and I can imagine this on a movie soundtrack (oh, here he goes again about movies…). I’m not convinced that the sound balance is completely right here - maybe if the percussion were lower in the mix and the rhythm guitar more forward the whole thing would hang together just a little better. The sax on Deception sounds a little too live if that’s possible. It’s not an easy sound to get to grips with, but the vibraphone sound is great. Once we get to the Caldera-style jazz-rock breakdown I’m hooked! It’s an intense song.

For my comments on the funky Is it You, see my review of “Eastbound”. Listening again, the bright synths and drum programming could only have come from the 1980’s. The song avoids sounding harsh though and I love the chord progressions. Ulterior Motives is a very energetic jazz-rock workout from 1989 and I could draw parallels with Caldera and other very technical bands such as Casiopea and Mezzoforte. Sax and piano are blazing on this crisp, busy instrumental. Victor Gonzalez on bass and Anthony King on drums forge a rhythm section that leaves you breathless!

For my comments on the songs Far Eastern Standard Time, Sugartown and Eastbound, please refer to my “Eastbound” review.

I love the bluesy and atmospheric Ellingtonian. It’s a very melodic tune featuring just alto sax, piano and bass, and the tempo is very slow. The acoustic is huge ��” this really is a beautiful recording. This is one of the newer tracks, recorded during 2004/5, and it is a great example of Aranita’s development as a composer, artist and producer. Party for Alto is an offbeat, funky latin tune which takes a couple of spins to get comfortable with. Despite the busy rhythm, that clean-as-a-whistle sax is the star. This will make you long for summer…

To close this varied set, the bright and upbeat Don’t Stop the Feeling is a nice choice. I wish a real guitar had been used in the intro but once the song gets rolling, the solid bass and a very snappy snare drum keep things moving while sax and keys swap solos. The horn works better than the keys for me ��” I’ve realised that I’ve become a fan of Mr Aranita’s superb, clean tone.

As a chronicle, a “where am I up to now?”, this set is very successful. It’s interesting in that it shows how the contemporary jazz idiom has changed in just less than 20 years but, more importantly, it shows how this multi-talented Hawaiian jazzman has progressed in every area.

Once again, I find myself apologising publicly to Aaron for the time I have taken to write this review. I’ve read that more new music is on its way and I’ll be very excited to hear it. Chris Mann - This cd is for those who are looking for a taste of retro with a hint of Brazilian influenced jazz. “Don’t Stop the Feeling” is a collection of sorts. It spans the years of 1987-2005 and includes several tracks from Aranita’s “Eastbound” album. All 14 tracks are original music by Aranita. Since I had never heard of him, this project was a great introduction for me into his music genius.

Aaron Aranita is a superb alto and soprano sax player who even dabbles a little with flutes, keyboards, programming and clarinets. The music covers a wide range of moods due to it spanning three decades. Listeners are given the opportunity to sample different styles of arrangements, which include fusion, contemporary and smooth style of jazz. Even though it took over 17 years to get this project put together, everyone’s playing on the music sounds fresh and dynamic. There are many talented guest musicians with notable mention going out to Valery Ponomarev on trumpet and Peter Horvath on keyboards.

There is a lot of music to digest here, which is always good. “Don’t Stop the Feeling” is Aaron’s attempt to spread love, harmony, and peace through his music and this listener feels he has accomplished that mission. LB's Lounge - Don't Stop The Feeling is an enjoyable and varied program of music by Aaron Aranita. The collection is composed of tracks recorded between 1987 and 2005. Seven of the fourteen tracks are brand new and feature superb soloing by both Aranita and trumpeter Valery Ponomarev. The other tracks are culled from previously unreleased material by the Monterey Eastbound Band, and tracks from Aranita's album Eastbound. Aranita is listed as performing on saxophone, flutes, clarinets, keyboards, percussion. Most of his work is on alto sax. From an analytical perspective, he has a rich sound and his linear and harmonic concepts are highly developed. More importantly, he plays frmo his heart and soul. He uses all of those skills, that can be developed through hard work, to express himself with passion. ”Jazzamba” is the first track of the album-and one of the newly recorded tracks. This relaxed samba features a front line of Aranita on soprano sax, and Valery Ponomarev on trumpet. Aranita is up first, turning a couple of choruses of happy sounds, demonstrating his melodic fluency. Ponomarev creates consistently superb solos deeply embedded with his hard bop and harmonically sophisticated roots. His effort here is no exception. Aranita switches to flute on “Kekara.” In keeping with the backbeat groove on this track, there are guitar and synth solos. “You Are A Drea” is a beautiful ballad- and apropos change of pace. Aranita is on alto and dances lithely over the colorful chord changes of this original. ”Never Say Never” is another up-tempo samba. Aranita's alto sax solo is superb. His well-constructed ideas flow naturally and with genuine spontaneity. The drummer is live, and the accompaniment is programmed. While Aranita is flawless, it sounds like the accompaniment was less supportive than a live rhythm section. ”Where the Wind Blows” offers a relaxing change of pace. Aranita plays the melody of clarinet, switching to alto sax for the bridge, and then to soprano sax for his solo. His command of the soprano sax is every bit as developed as his alto work. Here, he delivers a lyrical solo, beautifully articulated, and again with heart. After attending Berklee College of Music Aranita traveled throughout the U.S. and Japan, gaining experience backing up such entertainment icons as Bob Hope, Andy Williams, Natalie Cole, the Temptations and others. Aranita now resides in Hawaii, where he also composes and operates his own recording studio. Some of the tracks on Don't Stop the Feeling fall into the cross-over arena, with back beat grooves and synth programming. Ponomarev's reputation goes back to his days with Art Blakey, and ensures a measure of the grand trandition on this effort. It is valuable to have distinguished soloists like Valery to add to the credibility. Regardless of the label or style of music from track to track, Aranita is a skilled reed artist and composer, and depth of his artistry shines throughout. Winthrop Bedford - Jazz Improv

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