One of the niceties I've enjoyed as a result of being a super fan of the lush voiced/legged Haley Reinhart is becoming twitter friends with some of her incredibly talented band mates. The subject of today's Profile in Jazz happens to be one of those mates, and it's pianist Keith Phelps Jr. and his jazz fusion band Hananeel.
After chatting on twitter with Keith for awhile about our mutual love of jazz, he sent me a link to a video of him tearing up the ivories like a baby Thelonious Monk in his Grammy School audition. Take a look below for yourself how impressive his jazz chops are.
Soon after, Keith asked me if I also liked jazz fusion and had me check out the album from his band, Hananeel, that also features his father, Keith Phelps Sr., on bass. Now, to be honest I'm a much bigger fan of more traditional jazz, but I told him I was open minded. I do enjoy the classic fusion sounds of Spyro Gyra, and also have some of George Benson's fusion leaning work in my collection, but sappy smooth jazz like Kenny G gives me acute nausea, and I really don't care for synth.
Anyway, I gave it a listen and I'm happy to say it has more classic jazz leanings than most fusion, and while not every song on the album is my style, it's very well produced and deserves some radio attention. My favorite track is Untold Stories, and that's probably because it's the most traditional jazz song on the album. Fantastic sax work by Hamilton Hardin is reminiscent of Dexter Gordan with a hint of Coltrane. Delicate, balanced, and expressive, I loved it from the opening bar. Adding to it is the beautiful piano work by Keith Jr. that acts as the perfect compliment.
Other notable tracks are Good Morning, which is a vibrant breath of fresh air, and the refreshing Intro Jazz.
Overall, if you are into jazz fusion you'll love it. I found the overall mood of the album to be happy, pleasing, contented and enjoyable. Of course, if I had my druthers I'd drag Keith deeper into the traditional jazz world alongside my girl Haley, and don't think I'm not gonna do everything in my Kenny Poo powers to make that happen!