Raul Midón - If You Really Want (2018)

Raul Midón
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Raul Midón - If You Really Want

It’s good to be Raul Midón. He’s been out here making albums that are well to the north of good for about a decade and a half. However,  Midón resided in the critically acclaimed but tragically slept upon territory. That changed last year with the release of Bad Ass and Blind – a record that earned Midón a Grammy nod. The singer/songwriter performed as a part of NPR’s “Tiny Desk” segment and was featured in profiles on major networks such as NBC.

Midón has capitalized on his well-deserved come up with If You Really Want, a record that pairs him with Grammy winning Dutch ensemble Metropole Orkest – a 52-member orchestra that has been existence since 1945 and has collaborated with Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jarreau, Elvis Costello Marcus Miller and Snarky Puppy just to name a few.

Raul Midón - If You Really Want

It’s good to be Raul Midón. He’s been out here making albums that are well to the north of good for about a decade and a half. However,  Midón resided in the critically acclaimed but tragically slept upon territory. That changed last year with the release of Bad Ass and Blind – a record that earned Midón a Grammy nod. The singer/songwriter performed as a part of NPR’s “Tiny Desk” segment and was featured in profiles on major networks such as NBC.

Midón has capitalized on his well-deserved come up with If You Really Want, a record that pairs him with Grammy winning Dutch ensemble Metropole Orkest – a 52-member orchestra that has been existence since 1945 and has collaborated with Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jarreau, Elvis Costello Marcus Miller and Snarky Puppy just to name a few.

Midón uses the record to reintroduce listeners to tunes from previous projects and to introduce the world to four previously unrecorded songs. An orchestra is an ideal setting for an artist with Midón’s vocal range and visually crisp style of songwriting. Take “Ocean Dreamer,” one of the album’s previously unrecorded tunes. “Ocean Dreamer” explores what happens to a weary traveler between the time he goes to sleep and awakens. Midón’s lyrics allow listeners to visualize a dream as a vessel that takes the sleeper on a different kind journey. This journey begins when the traveler “stands at the window in some foreign hotel and closes the door on the day/flips through his memories and wishes them well/and waits for the ocean of dreaming to take him away,” and ends in the morning when he opens the door and greets the ‘real world.’

“Ocean Dreamer” is the type of acoustic ballad that has long been a Midón staple, but the inclusion of the strings gives the track a larger, more expansive feel, even as the cut retains its intimacy. 

Listeners get a true feel on how Midón interacts with the orchestra on the previously released material. Midón draws energy from the brass and the strings and the orchestra has an understanding of the myriad musical influence that this artist brings to fore. The title track and “Ride on a Rainbow” are the two tracks that find Midón and the orchestra diving most deeply into the jazz. The former features sweeping strings, big band influenced improvisation by the horns and an electric guitar solo. The former features a thick and funky bass line, a smooth saxophone solo Midón’s signature mouth trumpet solo.

Midón was born in New Mexico to parents of African-American and Argentinian descent and the soul, Mexican and South American influences come through in a track such as “Sunshine” from Midón’s second album State of Mind. A percussive Latin beat propels the rhythm section while the horns give the number a jazz swing.

I don’t know if Midón views this project as a victory lap, but I wouldn’t blame him if he did. He’s been a consistent artist – regularly releasing albums of high quality, and those efforts received validation through a Grammy nomination. He’s collaborated with artists such a Stevie Wonder and Marcus Miller, and If You Really Want will serve to insure that an increasing number of performers will be looking to work with Raul Midón.  Strongly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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