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Reza Saleh – First Step

June 20, 2013

Bassist Reza Saleh has made a gigantic first step with his debut release entitled, appropriately, First Step. Here is competent, rich bass playing that will surely grab and hold your attention.

Saleh, hailing from Indonesia, has held a passion for bass since age 12. By the time he caught an Earth, Wind and Fire performance, he knew that a pursuit of music was inevitable as his way of life.

Having opened for such high-gloss artists as Peter White and Ray Parker Jr., Saleh plays here as one who should have other acts opening for him. Well-conceived, tight, melodic, and funk-filled are adjectives that came to mind when I first listened to this most talented bassman.  His writing, his style of playing, and the all-consuming, larger-than-life groove he lays down on each track are proof enough that he will easily hold his own in the world of contemporary jazz bassists.

Kicking it off in high gear with the funky lead track “Bassment,” Saleh shows how well he can balance moods on this project as he follows that track with mellow, sexy tracks like “Come to Me” and “My Love” with the lovely vocals of Cindy Bernadette, then launches back into the funk with “Breeze,” (a track that features Melissa Himawan and her strong vocals) and “Rats Groove.”

A very interesting, probably introspective, piece is the hauntingly beautiful “Home Sick.”   The melody and the mood it seems to depict are very much intertwined. A story is being told here, I’m sure.

This project has the capability of placing Saleh prominently on the contemporary jazz map quickly. It will be most interesting to see how this clearly skilled bassist with a vision does on the charts and in the hearts of jazzers everywhere.  First Step is sure-footed and planted well. – Ronald Jackson

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