Guildford’s Englishman Rupert Leighton has a way with making his piano dance, whether to digital bass and rhythmical programs or to lavish cymbal and horn formations. His second recording Take The Sidewalk is the sequel to his 2005 debut album Beyond Reflection. The album is a synthesis of Jamirquoi-like techno beats and Chopin’s rattling piano flitters.
Produced, composed and arranged by Leighton, the music is club/acid jazz in an array of dance modes from Latin cha-cha with "Calahorra Dance" to loose and disco-shaken, like "Amuse Bouche," "Vanity" and "My Sahara." And then there are some chill-out jaxs and soul excursions, like the title track "Jazz Chat" and "City Heat" with commanding piano captions emblematic of Europe‘s electro-funk. Also performing on the album are Graham Hutton on flugelhorn and Nigel Ellis on saxophone, who add traditional jazz customs to the contemporary mix.
Leighton takes jazz music to a new realm of ambient-pop with dazzling piano strides, echoing synth channels and complementing electro-pop clasps and orchestrations which pave a destination for the songs. The synth trickles are glistening and the programs of heavy bass grooves provide the songs depth. It’s music whose elements are familiar, but have never been arranged like this before.
The insteps of jazz, soul, and techno-club music produce new interpretations and phrases. It has appeal for the young and old from the metallic sci-fi techno programming of "Oombala Quako" to the jazz standards on "Drift Along" and "Solstice Illusion." There is a light funk vibe in "Solstice Illusion" that supports the saxophone paragraphs with a graceful stance. Leighton stretches contemporary jazz music’s parameters prompting legions of techno-club atmospherics.
The final track "We Need To Talk" has a tissue-y flounce with a blues-laden vocal melody titivating the chill-out soul piano phrasing and slinky bass programming. There is a sweet-talking idiom in the instrumentation and vocals that is silky smooth and beckons the listener into its inner sanctum.
Rupert Leighton’s second installment has an ambient fluidity containing digital beats and phrases which make tucks for the jazz-made piano summits and traverses. There is a contemporary prance in the piano flutters and pixie dust of synth effects, which make the songs on Take The Sidewalk glitter with a fancy-free syntax. Technically, the music is a mix of styles. Artistically, it is vibrant and holds the listener in its grasp. It’s club/dance jazz that forms great escapes to plunge into and feel free.