U-Nam is a veteran session guitarist in France who has signed a deal with Trippin ‘n’ Rhythm, the U.K.-based smooth-jazz label featuring Paul Hardcastle, Gregg Karukas and others. But while there are a few nods to the genre, The Past Builds the Future is more in tune with today’s nu-soul records than with smooth jazz.
U-Nam may play the guitar, but this is anything but a guitar record. Soul is the key here, as he recruited such crooners as Rahsaan Patterson and Phil Perry to inject their old-school cool into the mix on “Love’s Taken Over” and “Right Here, Right Now,” respectively. Also contributing vocals are Stevie Wonder sound-alike Nyr–who also channels George Benson’s vocalese on the frantic “French Flavor”–and Leedia, whose throaty soul stylings brighten the song “Blue Mood.”
Keyboardist Jeff Lorber is featured on several tracks, as is saxophonist Gary Meek. The many collaborations and sounds on The Past Builds the Future–from smooth jazz, old-school, nu-soul, R&B and funk–make it a robust and satisfying work.