Julie Dexter/Khari Simmons - Moon Bossa (Brash Music)

julie and khariBack in the late 80s and early 90s before the radio format was officially dubbed “smooth jazz,” it was known as New Adult Contemporary (NAC)—a wider category that allowed for wonderful and soulful European vocalists like Basia and groups like Swing Out Sister and Everything But The Girl to achieve major hits. On their truly magical, pop-Brazilian vibing dual project Moon Bossa, vocalist Julie Dexter and bassist Kahri Simmons take us back to that glorious time with a mix of covers of hits by those artists and an impressive array of colorful, percussive originals. First, a bit of introduction: singer-songwriter Dexter, British of Jamaican parentage, has been performing a mix of jazz, broken-beat, bossa nova and soul for the past ten years; in that time, she’s shared the stage with everyone from Jill Scott and Bilal to Amel Larrieux, Donnie, Omar, Jaguar and Rachelle Ferrell. In the mid-90s, Simmons formed Jiva, a band that specializes in soul bossa and neo soul; he is the longtime bassist for neo-soul superstar India.Arie. The two artists bring all of these exotic soul sensibilities together on Moon Bossa, beginning with the hypnotic, easy rolling and romantic title track (which includes retro touches like Fender Rhodes and the clavinet). Their cover of Everything But The Girl’s “My Baby Don’t Love Me” is more uptempo than the original, with Dexter’s soothing voice floating over dense percussion and swirling, trippy effects. Next up is a gentle, soothing, horn-tinged take on Sergio Mendes’ “Salt Sea,” whose core is the blend of her vocals and Ken Gregory’s beautiful samba-lite acoustic guitar lines. Simmons’ more aggressive bossa flavored original “Venusian” uses the unusual sound of the melodica to enhance the sweet swirl of Dexter’s vocal, retro-ambience, acoustic guitar and spicy percussion.

“The Dove” is a sexy original straight out of the laid back Swing Out Sister school, while the wordless vocal driven “Sea And Sky” is decidedly more exotic and anthemic, in the spirit of Mendes’ “Brasil ’66.” The next two tracks are delicious and dreamy new takes on classics by Swing Out Sister (“Fooled By A Smile”) and Basia (“Promises”) that really convey the heart and soul of Moon Bossa—a celebration of the realm where classic Brazilian rhythms touch pop-soul ambience and rhythm. The main tracking closes with “What Do I Do,” a sweet, softly swaying Dexter original featuring incredible vocal texturing and spacey effects, and a sparsely arranged vocal-acoustic guitar take on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave,” featuring the lovely vocals of Alex Lattimore. As a bonus, the duo includes remixes of a handful of the tracks, most prominently a grooved up version of “Fooled By A Smile” by Incognito leader Bluey Maunick, who also contributes his inimitable guitar lines. Moon Bossa is retro pop/Brazilian music at its best and will make the listener long for the days when AC radio was open to vocal driven recordings like this.

http://juliedexter.com and http://www.jivamusic.com/go/khari.php

 

                                                                                                                 - Jonathan Widran

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