WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE!

Bickley Rivera – Breaking the Mold

Feb. 21, 2015

Five years ago, the smooth jazz world was treated to the remarkable breezy, easy, tropical sound of steel pan charm from Bickley Rivera with her Bickley Riverarelease Chillin’ After Five. Just as sure as I am that the album produced a collective ‘wow!” from listeners, her latest project Breaking’ the Mold will take you to yet another level of appreciation.

This latest offering of Caribbean bliss finds her exotic pan jazz sound blending with guest collaborators like guitarist Steve Oliver (who also produced this fine work), bassist Eddie Reddick, saxman Will Donato, Spyro Gyra members Tom Schuman (keys) and Bonny B (drums), and fellow steel pan artist Andy Narell.

Among the delightfully melodic pieces here are her lead sunshine-bright and springy track “Let’s Kick It,” the intoxicatingly rhythmic and exotic “Latin Ride” with that trademark Steve Oliver guitar touch, her wonderfully snappy take on Spyro Gyra’s classic “Morning Dance,” the sexy, sauntering “Make You Mine,” the lively and robust “Que Sabor,” and the oh-so-suave finale “Emerald Flow.” There are other gems to be found here, as well. Without a doubt, Rivera again weds herself to the sounds of island magic with the appeal of a stroll along a beach splashed with a glowing sunrise or soft sunset.

There is such a savory caress to Rivera’s approach, even when the tempo is lively and robust. Whenever you need to escape to a place of pleasant dreams and desires, whether in reality or imagined, you want this to be the music to accompany you there. Breaking the Mold is a truly masterful, feel-good effort. — Ronald Jackson