Monrovia, Liberia-born guitarist Martin Mathelier was raised mostly in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. First learning the guitar from his well-known Haitian guitar virtuoso brother Marc Mathelier, the younger brother focused, as he got older, on Brazilian bossa nova. In 1981 in New York, Martin, along with two others, founded the group Vibes, a long lasting band featuring Haitian Kompa music.
Take Me Back Home is designed to help raise funds to benefit the Institut Montfort, a Haitian charitable organization, get back on track after the January, 2010 earthquake. The institute provides education and shelter to approximately 600 deaf and mute children. All of their buildings were destroyed during the tragedy. All proceeds from the sale of this recording will go to the institute.
Mathelier is ably joined by some very good musicians. Pianist Van Falmagne has a great sense of how to use solo lines to build and then release tension. Throughout the recording, he plays with a clean soloistic style and his left hand comping, even on his own solos, shows an homage to pianist Horace Silver. Scott MacRobbie's drum set work is spot on and tasty with a great sense of less-is-more, which works exceptionally well on these eight Mathelier compositions.
This smooth jazz album is full of light and breezy melodies reminiscent of Caribbean music. Mathelier plays acoustic guitar in a pleasant single note style and, contrary to many smooth jazz recordings, plays a number of improvised solos. Many of them are very nice with a flowing melodic style. Trumpeter Gershon Rosen has a nice tone, but plays some non-harmonic notes that clash occasionally with the proceedings, as on "Anaise's Bossa." Additionally at times in the ensemble a solid sense of rhythmic grounding in the groove is lost, as on "Take Me Back Home" at the end of Mathelier's solo. While this is not the greatest smooth jazz recording ever made, the higher purpose it serves is a worthy goal.