The new release from the notable contemporary jazz group Airborne is titled New Horizons and features smooth jazz guitar, keyboards, and reed instruments in conjunction with passionate Latin infused grooves to craft a CD cool as an island breeze. Airborne has long been referred to as the "Musical Peacemakers" of contemporary jazz. On New Horizons, the group’s 7th release on Tilt Records since their inception in the late 1980’s, their peaceful theme is abundantly present on many of their songs.
The triumvirate which comprises Airborne is expertly piloted by group leader Thomas Borino on piano and keyboards. His brother, Greg Bornio is the group’s impressive guitarist, while Thomas Sansone delivers high-quality performances on varied saxophones as well as flute. In addition, all three gentlemen offer vocals and receive composing credits.
The opening cut, "Sunrise," is a groove-laden instrumental, led alternately by piano, guitar, and flute. Aptly titled, since the sunrise marks the first appearance of the sun on the horizon, and the CD is named New Horizons. Airy buoyant background vocals help bolster the floating carefree and sunny environment, and the flute generates an illusion of morning bird chirps. The pretty mid-tempo "Take Me Away" comes next and features a joyful steel drum tropical Caribbean island melody. Softly indistinguishable vocals, fresh and breezy acoustic guitar, and light cheery keyboards provide the musical backbone to this superbly blissful song.
The magnetic "Diggin The Atmosphere" dances along with pleasing piano and puffs of flute augmenting the loping melody amid brief punctuating stabs of gripping electric guitar. The whispery sea-siren vocals alluringly keep repeating the song’s title refrain. The back-to-back combination of "Diggin The Atmosphere" and "A Saturday Afternoon" forms a formidable one-two punch of smooth jazz elegance. "A Saturday Afternoon" is a delightful ensemble piece, with brilliant sax, biting guitar and crisply cool keyboards combining again with soft background vocals to weave a wondrous textured melody that is truly unforgettable.
Bobby Hebb’s classic hit "Sunny" is given an updated contemporary spin, complete with Latin-jazz/rock guitar and gospel-tinged alternating male and female lead vocals. The guitar-work on this song, and some others, echoes the brothers Santana (Carlos and Jorge) while celebrating Al DiMeola and George Benson jazz flavors. Thomas Borino’s assured keyboards masterfully anchor this stimulating song.
The vibrant "One World" has a moving Calypso beat with Caribbean steel drums adding flavor against Latin horns and insistent driving percussion effects together with more Caravanserai Santana-like burning guitar riffs and sparkling flute. The syncopated rhythms blend with jazz fusion to create a dynamic global statement. This Latin effervescence continues on "Gate 7," another quality- packed complex cut.
"Thank God It’s Friday" contains an old-time New Orleans/Cab Calloway feel with brass instrumentation and a repeated exhortation "Thank God it’s Friday, if it wasn’t for Friday I’d lose my mind." It’s a deviation from the surrounding songs, and a mark of how diverse Airborne’s musical reach extends.
Billy Holiday’s bittersweet blues standard "God Bless The Child" is joyously performed with a Dr. John vibe. The song, honored by induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame, has been covered by numerous artists, in a multitude of genres since its long ago appearance. A few of the more notable recordings belong to Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Stanley Turrentine; although no artist I’ve heard has put such a jubilant spin on it.
"From Jazz To James" encompasses various jazz styles. Wes Montgomery mellow expressive tones, Maynard Ferguson big band bop, and jazz fusion are presented. When some guttural grunts and horn music in the familiar manner of the King of Soul James Brown are added, the song really takes a twist. Some swirling majestic keyboards in the style of Emerson, Lake and Palmer are even shown. It’s quite an ambitious composition, written by Greg Borino, with lots of originality.
The final two songs are tightly connected with a target goal of Peace and Harmony. Some near-testifying is presented in the Gospel song "We Are All Children Of This World." It’s an inspirational song with sprinkles of goodwill throughout; a musical attempt to unite mankind and strive for a moral global society by reaching out the hand of Peace to our fellow man. Spoken inspirational words by various male and female narrators of different ages, cultures, and languages form the premise of the final song, "New Horizons." African rhythms and soft chants of "one world" form the foundation for the narrators to issue the humanitarian proclamations "we are one world, one people, searching for new horizons," and "all things are possible if we live, laugh, and love." This highly compassionate message also includes the previous song title "we are all children of this world."
On New Horizons Airborne again take to the air in graceful flight, articulating their message of Peace with well played songs that sustain the listener’s interest. This work is a product of skilled musicians infused with a spirit of hope who aspire for a better world containing new horizons.