Primary Instrument: Saxophone
‘Led By You’ is the latest project from Konstantin Klashtorni. It follows on the heels of his critically acclaimed debut solo release ‘Downtown’ and promises to make a major mark in the ultra competitive world of smooth jazz saxophone.
This is very much a virtuoso project for Konstantin. As well as writing, programming and producing all ten tracks he variously plays saxophones, flute, keys and additional guitars but still finds space to include some excellent backing musicians. Yerman Aponte plays bass, Udo Demandt is on drums, the guitar of Roy Lewis features on four of the cuts and, in addition, Klashtorni blends in some significant guest performances.
The music of Konstantin Klashtorni is seriously catchy with none more so than the title cut. The phrasing of the uplifting intro is revisited throughout the track to frame the simple melody and produce a chunk of top notch feel good smooth jazz. Another one that stays in the head and won’t go away is ‘So Lovely’. Both gentle and infectious it evokes thoughts of summer sun glinting on rippling water.
Feel good and uplifting could be the theme of the entire album and this is typified by the opening track, the mid tempo and lightly funky foot tapper ‘Back It Up’ where the trumpet of Michael Simon and trombone of Santiago Cananda Valvere add to the full, rich sound. Simon and Valvere also feature on ‘On The Way ’. Its piece of smooth jazz for any occasion that seems straight from the west coast and this same sun drenched ‘driving with the top down’ vibe is apparent on both ‘Ocean Of Joy’, on which Ibernice McBean flirts with atmospheric subliminal vocals, and on ‘Stay Romantic’. Here Klashtorni succeeds in producing a big sound that is at the same time mellow and sweet.
The backing vocals of Ibernice McBean are also used on the romantic ‘Close’ where they blend to sensational effect with Klashtorni’s ultra smooth sax and on ‘Haven’t Got The Heart’, a quality slice of smooth melodic R & B with Mitchell Brunings taking the lead on vocals and Klashtorni maintaining the lightest of touches on sax.
‘It Dews’ is late night smooth jazz for lovers into which Klashtorni weaves a catchy hook and he is again in turned down mode with the melodic chill of ‘Look Around’, a tune further enriched by the trumpet of Michael Simon.
‘Led By You’ is an outstanding collection of commercially attractive smooth jazz that, in many ways, represents a coming of age for Klashtorni. He perfectly meshes production skills to rival Paul Brown and Brian Culbertson with his own individual musical talents and captures the twin peaks of melody and rhythm that are at the heart of everything good in smooth jazz.
Denis Poole. www.smoothjazztherapy.com.