Nick Colionne - No Limits (2009)

Nick Colionne
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He's an award-winning musican (nominated recently for Canada's Smooth Jazz Awards after winning in 2007), mentor and elementary school teacher in his native Chicago, lauded for his baritione, inspired live performances and his so-fresh-and-so-clean-clean image. So when Nick Colionne---a seasoned musical pro since the age of 15---entitled his sixth CD and Koch Records debut No Limits, it was as much about his many talents as it was about the musical direction upon which he's embarking.

Whether you consider yourself the casual 'take it or leave it' listener or the got-to-have-it jazz connoisseur, Mr. Colionne can satisfy both ends of the spectrum, thanks to his delving headfirst into the blues ("Hard Line"), R&B (the plucky "Steppin' Back" and the Chi-Town themed "The Big Windy Cat") and sultry funk sandwiched in-between aquatic mid-tempos and slow jams ("Ports of Call," "On The Edge."). Not eager to mess with a winning formula, he retains the same lyricists and players that helped to craft his previous hits (John Blasucci, Dave Hildebrand, Paul Richmond and Jim Peterik), but they lend crisp edges to the collection without stifling it.

The resulting emotional canvas  is a rich and colorful one, thanks to the tenderly sublime "Take A Walk With Me," the sparkling Wes Montgomery tribute, "Wes Before Dawn," and the wiry "Godfather J." Romance also abounds thanks to the percolating "Until Tonight," the heady anticipation behind "Melting Into You" and the sexy open-endedness of "Anyway." 

It's hard to say which instrument expresses the most eloquence, his guitar or his vocals (the late Issac Hayes or Will Downing, depending on your ear, would applaud Mr. Colionne's rich tones and textures),  but what cannot be disputed is the quality of No Limits, both for its versatilty and its consistency in showcasing his overall growth and finesse as an artist through the years. If you've got to have a CD tailor-made for a cozy evening, one to calm your nerves during rush-hour traffic or even something sophisticated enough to wash away the sex-soaked R&B you've been inundated with lately, No Limits fits the bill.

By Melody Charles