Hardcastle 5 [Circuit City Exclusive]

by: Paul Hardcastle

With the release in Japan of The Jazzmasters featuring vocalist Helen Rogers in 1991, English composer and synth master Paul Hardcastle introduced a fresh hybrid of jazz and dance music that became an international phenomenon over the next decade and a half. The first Jazzmasters disc received the NARM Bestselling Jazz Recording award and is one of the best-selling independent jazz records of all time; it stayed on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart for over a year. Alternating his annual output between five electronic-inflected Jazzmasters recordings and four previous albums released as Hardcastle, Hardcastle 2, etc., the multifaceted artist -- whose worldwide sales top 11 million -- has amassed a total of seven number one contemporary jazz hits. Hardcastle 5 is another cool, low-key, sensual urban pop-jazz delight, whose melodies, atmospheres, and easy grooves make it perfect background makeout music. There are a few touches of deeper exotica that create a nice balance and catch the ears between moods, most notably "Marimba," which finds Hardcastle approximating the sound of that instrument. Hardcastle 5 is notable for introducing to his legion of fans two new and important performers. Soulful, ethereal vocalist Beki lends her dreaminess to the four tracks she co-wrote with Hardcastle, including the thoughtful, slightly melancholy "Don't You Know" and the super-sexy "Closer," which fans of the similarly toned Robin Thicke could surely eat up. The last track proudly introduces 16-year-old saxophonist Paul Hardcastle, Jr. into the mix with the younger musician's first recorded composition, "Take 1," which sounds incredibly sophisticated for a track recorded as a demo in his bedroom! The younger Hardcastle keeps the flow sweet and seductive, offering promise for an eventual solo career as a smooth jazz artist. While Hardcastle 5 isn't breaking any real new ground for Paul Hardcastle, it's still a splendid addition to the catalog. [Hardcastle 5 was also made available in a Circuit City Exclusive edition.] ~ Jonathan Widran

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