Jeff Richman may have been recording music for more than twenty years but Aqua is my personal, and very pleasant, introduction to the man's music. For those of you more familiar with his back-catalogue then you may be surprised to find that the man that, as his promotional material would have it, is more famous for producing "edgier fusion styles" has cut an album of pure late night smoochy jazz/soft-rock fusion.
Yes, this is an album for lovers, an album that induces soft feelings, thoughts of embraces and kisses, an album that leaves you longing for that Sex On The Beach. The cocktail, I mean, what did you think I meant???? Honestly! It's just that with Chris Wabich playing steel drums on a number of these tracks there's a wonderful Caribbean aroma to some of the music, and a great warmth overall. Indeed, Jeff's conception for this album was his love of the ocean - surely a primordial longing in all of us. The gatefold CD-cover is another giveaway with its image of a heart shaped island in a translucent azure sea. Buy it for your loved one and you can spend a smoochy evening or two taking it all in. Yes, I'm sure that even you metal-heads out there would enjoy this.
The musicianship on this all-instrumental album is delightful. Jeff's guitar playing is seamless, honeyed, a joy. As well as the aforementioned Chris Wabich, joining him in the band are Simon Phillips and Will Kennedy (drums), Abraham Laboriel and Dean Taba (bass), Mitchel Forman and Jeff Babko (keyboards), Walfredo Reyes (percussion), Jeff Beal (trumpet) and Brandon Fields (saxophone).
Having said all that, Aqua is the type of album whose music has a propensity to float into the background, perhaps as a consequence of its soft slickness and warm feel. Maybe it's just me, but I did struggle to keep my attention on it. Nevertheless, I shall be playing it for the Mrs. a few more times yet...
1) Everything About You (5:35)
2) Kahuku (6:20)
3) Priceless (4:29)
4) The Big Step (6:55)
5) Aqua (5:21)
6) Where I Belong (4:53)
7) Storm Before the Calm (6:10)
8) Peace of Work (5:56)
9) The Nest (5:15)
10) Down by the River (5:18)