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Jon Simon Project: Soar

Acoustic pianist Jon Simon has carved out a musical niche with his repertoire of Jewish music, mixing traditional melodies and well-known folk songs. A few years ago, he even recorded an album of solo piano tunes from the Beatles. But Simon’s ninth CD finds the artist in a mood that suits him best-creating music he calls “jazz to lift you higher.” The musicianship is top-notch, as top session performers like bassist Roberto Vally, drummer Dave Beyer, saxophonist and flutist Mike Nelson and guitarist and B3 keys man Troy Dexter are along for the ride.

As befits a CD that is meant to inspire, the melodies are rich and mostly on the mellow side. There’s some Latin on “Fiesta del Sol” and some R&B with “On Top of the World,” but the best pieces here are “With the Wind” and “The Journey” as Jon Williams’ emotive vocalese give them a taste of Metheny-esque grandeur. Nothing too meaty-just nice.

Originally Published