U-Nam - Unanimity (2009)

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Nimble with the strings, varied in his influences and dynamic in his delivery, it has barely taken two CD's for jazz guitarist Emmanuel Abiteboul, better known as U-Nam, to establish himself as one of today's most exciting artists, producers and musicians. Elastic in his approach and eager to incorporate differing musical styles into his tracks (pop, funk and soul), U-Nam, as expected, follows up 2007's Back From the 80's with---what else?--- another delicious fusion of funk, pop, and contemporary soul.

Nimble with the strings, varied in his influences and dynamic in his delivery, it has barely taken two CD's for jazz guitarist Emmanuel Abiteboul, better known as U-Nam, to establish himself as one of today's most exciting artists, producers and musicians. Elastic in his approach and eager to incorporate differing musical styles into his tracks (pop, funk and soul), U-Nam, as expected, follows up 2007's Back From the 80's with---what else?--- another delicious fusion of funk, pop, and contemporary soul.

Some of Unanimity's 14 tracks may remind some listeners of his inescapable George Benson influence (transposing animated, plucky guitar runs over sultry grooves), but U-Nam brings fresh verve to the mix on tracks like the sparkling slow-mo feel of "The Day I Met U," the irresistibly brassy, Sam and Dave-recalling "(Hang On) U-Is Coming " and the joyous, sun-lit title track, threaded with an impetuously funky bass line and peppered with a chorus that brings to mind the spiritual soul of an Early Earth, Wind and Fire. "My Heart & Soul" has murky, bluesy undertones, "4 Ever Urs" finds U-Nam making the guitar emote like any soul master's vocals could, and the tempest he creates with the melodic "U Could Make It Happen" is a tender, tantalizing one.

And, as if one multi-faceted musician wasn't enough, U-Nam generously shares his spotlight with others, including Franck Sitbon (acoustic piano, background vocals), Denis Bennarosh (percussion), horn players Thierry Farrugia, Christian Martinez and Bernard Camoin as well as soul stylist Marva King (on an exuberant remake of "Dancing In The Street") and jazz masters George Duke and Najee: the lead single and Mr. Duke's contribution, " Shine On," is a perfect percussive track to kick off an easy weekend, and Najee, who co-wrote the breezy "Soul Boy Reincarnation," contributed sax and flute to the jam as well. 

From polished straightforward jazz to bursts of raucous R&B, Unanimity has it all: fans justifiably enamored with his first two CD's won't be disappointed, and for those who've unschooled on his prowess, U-Nam is an awe-inspiring original (all of this breadth and talent, and the man isn't even 40 yet!) and, thanks to this third-time charmer, is responsible for one of 2009's most enjoyable releases yet. For the jazz novice as well as for its aficionados, pop it in the changer, press play, relish and repeat.

By Melody Charles

 
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