May 2000

Alex Bugnon
As Promised
Narada Media

Keyboardist and song craftsman Alex Bugnon delivers soul-stirring retro R&B with a liberal dusting of contemporary elegance on promised (Narada 70876-13296-2-9; 51:07). While Bugnon clearly delights in recognizable details like wah guitar, purring organ and sharp-edged horns, he balances these funky textures with his own brand of light piano tripping on tunes like "Onward, Upward" and "Won't Be a Fool." The result is a unique mix of visceral rhythm and blues and heady modern romance-with a notable absence of smooth jazz cliches. Old-soul purists will enjoy the authentic bass-pumping strut of "His Coolness," while the more dewy-eyed will appreciate Bugnon's center-stage, warm piano melody on the album's title track. Meeting squarely in the middle is a track like "Chasing Spirals," with dark piano falls and driving percussion pushed by alto sax into a uniquely funky mystery piece. The keyboardist also doesn't skimp on talent here, employing such luminaries as Branford Marsalis, Lalah Hathaway and Victor Bailey to deliver the message.

Originally published in May 2000

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