Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu (2019)

Juewett Bostick
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Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu

Juewett Bostick latest album, Shades of Blu, is his first project since It’s Not That Easy dropped in 2003. Still, guitarist Bostick has an important role in helping SoulTracks become the leading online presence for R&B music that it is today. It’s Not That Easy was one of the first records reviewed on SoulTracks back when Chris launched the site in 2003 and 2004. So Bostick was one of the artists who helped Chris realize the site’s potential as a destination for Independent artists seeking pathways to ensure that their works reached a wider audience.

Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu

Juewett Bostick latest album, Shades of Blu, is his first project since It’s Not That Easy dropped in 2003. Still, guitarist Bostick has an important role in helping SoulTracks become the leading online presence for R&B music that it is today. It’s Not That Easy was one of the first records reviewed on SoulTracks back when Chris launched the site in 2003 and 2004. So Bostick was one of the artists who helped Chris realize the site’s potential as a destination for Independent artists seeking pathways to ensure that their works reached a wider audience.

The site has changed much over the course of 16 years, and so has Bostick. It’s Not That Easy was more of an adult contemporary R&B record. Shades of Blu has elements of R&B, but at its core Bostick’s latest record is a quirky work of jazz fusion. Shades of Blu includes Bostick originals as well as his unique takes on the works of hard bop and soul jazz legends such as Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan and Thelonious Monk and blues and rock guitar god Jimi Hendrix.

Those divergent associations can be heard most noticeably when Bostick, sidemen or the vocalists use their freedom to communicate and improvise on the album’s instrumental selections. Bostick imagines Monk’s “Bye Ya,” as an airy Afro-Caribbean mamba number that fuses in elements of free jazz and an airy flute, while Mobley’s “High Modes” is transformed from a swinging piece of soul jazz into a swinging piece of jazz-funk fusion featuring Bostick’s precise and creative picking on the guitar that might remind some of George Benson.

Shades of Blu also includes multiple versions of Bostick originals – such as “Sounds & Rhythm Aftermath,” where the band engages in instrumental conversations and showcases their creativity as soloists – and they are where the album really takes off. Bostick and the vocalist engage in a sweet conversation between guitar and voice on the title track. Another version of the same song showcases Bostick’s creativity as an arranger. He employs the melody from another classic work of hard bop, “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” along with backing vocals that might remind some of the Manhattan Transfer because of the tight harmonies.

Bostick himself is an accomplished guitarist whose talent ensured that he often showed up on the work of some of your favorite artists – even if the name Juewett Bostick didn’t ring any bells. He worked most famously with Norman Connors, but also Grover Washington, Jr. Bobby Brown, The Temptations and Nancy Wilson, just to name a few. He brings all of those influences to bear on Shades of Blu and creates a record that is quirky in some parts and bluesy in others. The consistent theme that runs through the entire project is the instrumental creativity. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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