Gabriel Mark Hasselbach – Kissed By the Sun

Aug. 7, 2012

The first notes of “King James,” the opening track on trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach’s newest offering, Kissed By the Sun, indicate — just by hopping all over the place with equal amounts of smooth groove, solid jazz flavor, and funk — that this is going to be one cool party. It is, and the doors are open for all to attend. What a full, energetic project.

Bringing along the formidable and heavy talents of keys master Jeff Lorber and, on select tracks, guitar guru Chuck Loeb, bass giant Brian Bromberg, and countless others, Hasselbach gives a new meaning to “kitchen sink.”

His trumpet leading the way with pure, solid clarity and force, Hasselbach reaches into the engine of contemporary jazz with Lorber (who co-wrote all of the tunes here with Hasselbach) and adds a few more cylinders to ensure that this album now only rides but soars effortlessly through this journey.

This album has everything from good solid funk (the lead track with saxman Rock Hendricks and “Lock It Up” with saxman Walle Larsson) to a cool, polished straight-ahead number (“Funk in Deep Freeze” with Chuck Loeb and Brian Bromberg doin’ their thing brilliantly) to that trademark high-steppin’ Lorber groove (among others, “Unreal Blues” with a mean flute riff from Hasselbach). Ah, the sweetness of jazz when you have the right personnel steering the vehicle. This is “Nobody Goes Anywhere Until This Vibe Stops” music. True aficionados of the genre will be held happily captive.

The snappy and tasteful title track keeps the party in high gear followed by a sauntering and mellow piece of jazz melody called “It’s Real” featuring guitarist Rob Tardik.

The up-tempo “Starpixie,” another with Lorber’s fingerprints all over it, further stokes the fires of this gem while the sedate “Ready When You Are” settles everything down a bit, if only for a moment as the upbeat “No One Like You” ends the party with a bang.

Hasselbach’s Kissed By the Sun brings variety and depth, real depth, to the genre and is truly a must-hear. With Lorber, it is one great collaboration and a demonstration of what true talent can create. – Ronald Jackson