This talented contemporary jazz group features keyboardist-composer Mark Minchello and multi-instrumentalist Bob Magnuson. Minchello has been the musical director for R&B songstress Regina Belle for the past decade, as well as serving in that capacity for two Jazz Explosion tours, featuring Boney James, Will Downing, Gerald Albright, and Phil Perry. Before that, he toured with the late legendary Luther Vandross. Magnuson’s achievements include work with Whitney Houston, B.B. King, the Three Mo Tenors, and Jennifer Holiday. This combination of talent and collaborations results in a very fine production with this album, Imagine.
Imagine dances in on track 1 with "Seinfeld," a funky, snappy, well-defined, and well-placed piece, showcasing some great sax work by Magnuson that clearly complements the artful keyboard skills of Minchello. It’s followed by the album’s title track, a classy sax-smoky version of John Lennon’s classic call to close one’s eyes and envision a world we can all love and appreciate. The subtle-yet-soulful and clean backing vocals add a delightful touch.
For added clout, the group ushers in the hot and bluesy guitar of Jeff Golub on track 3, "Reflections," coupled with Minchello’s stylish tickling of the ivories in a manner similar to that of Brian Simpson or Gregg Karukas. Track 4, "Slide On By," descends like a soulful dove with Magnuson’s sax and Minchello’s soothing keystrokes providing the vehicle that easily takes one to a very serene and pleasant place. Some of the other genre influences that the group proudly mentions as being a component of this project comes to light in track 5, "Chain Dance." This nifty diversion has a lot of musical charm and charisma and adds a soft, lilting world beat to its rhythm. "Woman of the World," track 6, is another "worldly" and rhythmic offering, bright and fluid with a nice hook. Then, there’s the Brazilian feel on track 12, "YJ Meets MG" (interesting title). Very well done. The very cushiony, mellow "Longing" closes the album with a healthy touch of real grace.
This second effort by Main Gazane is preceded by the debut album, Lightning Strikes. If Imagine is any indication, I’d be making a big mistake by not backtracking to grab that debut!