Soaring to the Top 40 on the R&B chart and the top pop chart with his debut album, Love Season, in 1989, Alex Bugnon followed his initial success with eight top selling albums as he mixes that feeling of delightful soul and mysterious street. Since his initial hit, Bugnon has stayed on top of the charts and on top of his game.
Rapturous delight opens title track, "Free" with cascading keyboards and Vincent Henry's soprano sax. Rich, delightful chords are shared with suspenseful drum sets of Li'l John Roberts.
Takin' it to the streets, getting funky with Darrell Freeman on bass, "Fingertips" is a rousing foot stoppin' whomp across keyboard for Bugnon. Sounds of strings, programmed by Phil Davis, gives extra layers to these players--pure excitement. "Carerra" takes a turn; perky, yet deep with long expanses on keyboard. Careful Alex, you're going to hurt yourself! Rick Watford offers deep guitar grooves while Henry introduces the flute to this piece.
Davis takes over on keyboard in a gentler "In Your Eyes." Drums soften as Sonny Emory gently accompanies Bugnon on piano. Victor Bailey's bass is distinguished, yet harmonious with the other players. This tune is familiar but completely unique.
Keyboard is programmed to an organ groove as Bugnon leads out on piano for "Sierra Leone." Up-tempo, timely, "Sierra Leone" shows Bugnon's ability and mastery of the keyboard as he co-stars with the flow of the organ.
Melvin Miller shows up with muted trumpet as Billy Odum frets out in a deep rhythm, and solid beat on "Downtime," sounding a bit southwestern. "Tomorrow (Better You, Better Me)" has a soft bass backing a pronounced percussion as Scott Emory joins the group on drums. Building to a climatic middle, Phil Davis performs his mastery across keyboards. This tune stays perky, suspenseful.
Soft strolling on keyboard and a slowing of rhythm on drums, "Pillow Talk" shows off Watford's ability to find the perfect string on guitar to say exactly what he want to say as he merges with keyboard for a perfect blend of sounds. Another romantic, "Don't Go" is just as exciting as pleading and begging is felt through the ensemble.
Bringing the album to a close with "Out There," Vincent Henry brings in the harmonica for a lasting resonance.
Surviving the jazz world, crossing into pop and R&B, all the while, staying ahead of the pack, can only be done with dedicated musicianship. Bugnon has that. And he knows how to choose the band that works. Free is truly that--free.