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

Kayla Waters — Apogee

Feb. 20, 2017

It is true that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” as young keyboardist Kayla Waters, daughter of the iconic Pied Piper of Love–saxman Kim Waters– proves beyond any shadow of a doubt. Her new release, Apogee, takes one on a true, well-defined journey through the heart, spirit, and mind. This is not music for those seeking only music created for music’s sake; this is music that demands your intellectual and spiritual attention, even as many of the grooves take you to the dance floor. It is an album with a story, a deep theme that calls you to explore the deepest depths of your understanding as to how music can shape almost anything through it’s magnificent power. An example is the album’s title: Apogee. The album’s liner notes get very much into why she so named this journey.

Apogee is an album full of nourishment for the soul — from the opening track “Earth Arrival” which, to me, can be translated to meaning one’s birth, to the finale — the triumphant title track, which denotes the completion of the journey and one’s spiritual ascension from the earth to points heavenward. Deep? Yep, but it’s all very clear in the music if you just allow it to take over and take you with it.

Tracks bound to impress include the increasingly popular single “I Am,” a smooth, snappy track that clearly is a reference to Waters’ sense of self after reaching that age of recognition. If you don’t want to go that deep, then just enjoy the soul-quenching sway of this one.

Let me stop here to say that this is all done with true jazz influence. There are no pretenses here; no tracks masquerading as jazz when they’re really something else. Her grasp of the melodic intricacies, sophistication, and great riffs all point to someone who knows her jazz and knows it well, certainly well enough to combine a touch of fusion, R&B, and soul without losing the contemporary jazz flavor in the process. So, while the theme here is deep and very much introspective, the album doesn’t “leave” you. It is still, at its core, very satisfying jazz.

Other tracks of note include the rhythmic and exotic “Heaven is Here,” which features Waters’ sweet vocals and the driving up-tempo “Freedom March” with its inspirational and uplifting “message” (definitely one of my faves here).

“The Dream, ” again featuring Waters’ vocals is a sweet, laid-back beauty that paints the picture of that perfect and sedate place within where dreams can be born and flourish. That’s certainly where it took me.

Waters has other tracks here that are simply impossible to ignore. Stay with her on this debut and grow musically. If nothing else, you’ll approve of this project’s unique quality and direction and enjoy how it still fulfills your musical expectations at the same time. — A++ effort indeed. — Ronald Jackson