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Brian Jackson: Gotta Play

On Gotta Play composer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jackson takes familiar R&B elements and digs deeper, exploring sound and texture for an oddly thoughtful and unexpected journey. Think “Moody Too” feels like a regular light R&B ballad? Hardly. The difference is in subtleties like Don Martin’s jump-off bass slides, and Jackson’s unique squinched keyboard sounds, which lend intrigue. Likewise the layered funk of “Fresca Girl” opens up to include gentle vocalese piping over whirling piano. African percussion also populates the mix, with Num Heru-ur Shutef Amun’tehu creating resonant beats to counterpoint the jazz offbeats of “Kama Sutra.” These elements combine for an overall feel that, though experimental, remains accessible. Listeners pulled in by David Mullen’s sax flights on “Gotta Play,” for example, will be captivated by the track’s multilayered, dark atmosphere. Likewise the Barry White-as-beat-poet introduction on “Parallel Lean/Home Is Where the Hatred Is” is a compelling lead into the track’s heart-touching light-jazz atmosphere.

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