Feb. 1, 2017
Contemporary/smooth jazz has always had such a wonderful open door policy and such a wide umbrella that it never ceases to amaze me how much talent passes through its doors, some only for a brief time, others becoming huge hits and digging in their heels for the long haul. Young saxophonist Daniel Chia from Singapore shows here on his debut release In the Moment that he may well be one of those who takes up residence inside that C-jazz house since passing through its doors.
With a smooth and sure-handed handling of the sax, coupled with nice melodies and contributions from none other than guitar master/producer Paul Brown, saxman Darren Rahn, and another great Paul Brown find, vocalist Melina.
So, who is this Daniel Chia? Well, let’s take a look. Although classically trained in the music of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Bartok, Chia’s work is also deeply influenced by the work of jazz legends like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk, alongside the R&B and soul music of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The young saxman has been invited to session work for famed guitarist Zoux and has also played live with smooth jazz luminary guitarist Peter White and Grammy-nominated vocal group DW3.
Chia is no stranger in his hometown either, having cut his teeth with hip-hop group SIXX, pop and R&B stars like Sezairi and Gareth Fernandez, and many others within the English and Mandarin adult contemporary music landscape. Furthermore, Chia is also Singapore’s youngest saxophone artist signed to Yamaha and a Silverstein’s first pro artist signing from Singapore.
This debut album, most of which was either written or co-written by Chia, is diverse in mood (ranging from the high-steppin’ up-tempo “Retro” to the mid-tempo suave “Life’s A Beach” to a couple of sweet n’ slow offerings) and brimming with solid talent and musicianship. Of the most impressive tracks here to me, one that clearly snatched my attention is his bluesy, soulful, and romantic “Tender” which demonstrates his grasp of the feel and depth of this kind of groove. The feel is everything on this track. Of course, others demand your attention, as well (and many are my faves), such as the cool and bouncy “Just Because” featuring personable saxman Rahn, the finger-snappin’ in-the-pocket “Malibu Drive,” the melodic, mid-tempo, slick and seductive “Say You Will,” and the sweet, romance-filled finale “Grace.”
Yes, I think we have yet another promising artist who brings his formidable talents and perspective from a faraway land to enrich this land with new and vibrant brilliance and color. Welcome Daniel Chia by grabbing a listen to this handsome piece of work. – Ronald Jackson