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Saxophonist Sebastien James reels in listeners with deep-seated romanticism on new album
(Published: August 21, 2011)

August 20, 2011 (Paris, France) Written by Robert Sutton. For saxophonist Sebastien James, reeling in listeners to his music is a matter of having a gripping, atmospheric buildup, which he achieves quite often on his latest album, Jazz & Lounge.

Also known as SebioJazz, James has an uncanny knack of reworking songs that are simultaneously faithful to the originals while invigorating them with contemporary touches. It's a fragile balancing act that James skillfully executes consistently on the record. For example, James rides Bill Withers' 1971 classic "Ain't No Sunshine" on a synthetic beat that distinguishes it from its bluesy initial incarnation. In fact, the tune is barely recognizable at first; however, when James' saxophone delivers what was once the vocal hook, it is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous; his sax is brimming with deep-seated romanticism and emotional longing, capturing the melancholy tones of Withers' voice but giving it a smooth, swirling sheen that is impossible to resist.

Jazz & Lounge functions as a concept album but not in a thematic sense. It's a record that is made for dinner parties or intimate moments between couples. Roberta Flack's 1973 smash "Killing Me Softly with His Song" receives a similar treatment as James' version of "Ain't No Sunshine." It gradually makes its presence known and again nearly unidentifiable until his saxophone kicks in with the famous - and hauntingly beautiful - chorus. James' saxophone on "Killing Me Softly with His Song" flows like warm honey; to the ears, it is pure bliss.

Not everything on the record is an instrumental. Caroline Gsell's richly melodic crooning injects soul and grace to James' rendition of the immortal 1939 ballad "Over the Rainbow." Yes, even a tune from The Wizard of Oz has the aura of lovemaking to it in James' hands. This is an album best listened to with the lights turned low or in a candlelit room.

More Information: http://www.sebiojazz.com

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