Malik Alston - This Music Is Life (2007)

Malik Alston
MalikAlston-Music.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

In the center of downtown Detroit is a building called The Renaissance Center, but one could argue that a small Tuxedo Street studio is the home of Detroit's real Renaissance Man, Malik Alston.  A singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actor, Alston has practiced his trade relatively quietly, but has released some of the city's most creative jazz, R&B and dance music of this decade.  And he continues expanding his territory with his self-released new disc, This Music Is Life. 

In the center of downtown Detroit is a building called The Renaissance Center, but one could argue that a small Tuxedo Street studio is the home of Detroit's real Renaissance Man, Malik Alston.  A singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actor, Alston has practiced his trade relatively quietly, but has released some of the city's most creative jazz, R&B and dance music of this decade.  And he continues expanding his territory with his self-released new disc, This Music Is Life. 

Covering an impressive variety of styles, from R&B ("You Are") to straight up modern jazz ("Hot," "Groove") to blues ("Light Within") to hip-hop ("Don't Leave") to Latin ("Tie It Up") to Gospel ("In A Better Way"), This Music Is Life is a glimpse of an artist at his creative peak. Alston virtually bursts with ideas throughout the disk, issuing a project that is simultaneously eclectic and amazingly accessible (it's almost unfair for a disc to have this many infectious bass-lines). 

The disc is at its best early on, as Alston hints of Roy Ayers or very early Earth, Wind and Fire on great cuts like "Beautiful Day," "Reach the Sky" and "Just Close Your Eyes," providing an entirely fresh perspective to a classic soul/jazz sound and creating a series of cuts as comfortable in a dance club as on a car stereo.  It's from this solid base that he diverges on the second half of the disc, moving effectively in multiple directions while using his jazz-influenced instrumentation as the common thread that holds this divergent disc together. 

Guest vocalists and musicians, from hot young D singer Monica Blaire to trumpeter Howard Wazeerud-Din, all add beautifully to the mix, but this is Alston's show, and he makes the most of it.  Fact is, there isn't a bad moment on this 75 minute disc, as Malik deftly takes listeners on his memorable, musical roller coaster.

Malik Alston may have spent the last decade as one of Detroit's hidden treasures, but with Music Is Life he stakes his claim as an artist worthy of international attention.  The sheer breadth of his vision and the impeccable execution of the artists involved make Music Is Life a landmark effort and certainly one of the finest albums of 2007.  Highly recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
Song of the Month - Kea Michaels - "Not My Friend"
Featured Album - Nichelle Colvin - Welcome to Gary
Featured Album - Rahsaan Patterson - Heroes & Gods

Leave a comment!