Nathan East – Reverence (Yamaha Entertainment Group, 2017)
Nathan East is one of the finest American bass players. Reverence is his second album and he showcases his talent by delivering an outstanding set of pieces covering a wide-range of styles.
The album opens with Earth Wind and Fire’s classic song “Love’s Holiday.” The track features Philip Bailey on vocals. Bailey was one of the original singers of Earth Wind and Fire. He provides wordless and background vocals, while the lead melody is carried forward by the bass.
The next track is “Lifecycle,” which is an excellent up-tempo piece that mixes bass-fueled funk jazz with Earth Wind and Fire-style brass, wah wah, strings and Latin jazz vocals.
“Elevenate” is a laid back piece with East’s colleague Chuck Loeb (Steps Ahead and Fourplay) delivering exquisite guitar interplay with Nathan East’s bass.
The Earth Wind and Fire theme continues on track 4, with “Serpentine Fire,” another classic song by the famed funk band. This cover was recorded with East’s brother Marcel in 1991 along with Eric Clapton on guitar and Phil Collins on drums. It was digitally remastered and three Earth, Wind & Fire members added parts: Philip Bailey on vocals, Verdine White on additional bass, and Ralph Johnson on percussion.
Track 5 is a gospel song titled “Feels like Home” featuring vocals by Yolanda Adams.
Stevie Wonder gets the next tribute with a cover of his hit “Higher Ground,” turned into an instrumental song with Nathan East’s fabulous bass replacing the vocals.
From funk to traditional jazz swing on “The Mood I’m In” with Nikki Yanofsky on vocals.
Track 8 is Nathan East’s version of one of the most recorded songs, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Here, Nathan’s 16-year-old son Noah takes the lead on piano.
One of the highlights of the album is the fantastic fusion track titled “Shadow”, featuring the great maestro Chick Corea on keyboards, including his signature synth solos. Even though this track is longer than the rest, it gets faded away and leaves you wanting much more.
Track 10, titled “Pasan” heads towards smooth jazz, with a mix of bass, backing vocals and woodwinds.
Another favorite is the decidedly enjoyable, feel good funk jazz song “Why Not This Sunday” featuring Ruben Studdard on lead vocals, interacting with East’s bass.
The album ends with a short and beautiful solo bass piece.
Nathan East is an experienced and highly reputable bass player who has recorded with well-known rock, R&B, pop and jazz acts. As a solo artist, his career started in 2014 with the self-titled recording Nathan East (Yamaha Entertainment Group), followed by a remarkable collaboration with Bob James titled The New Cool (Yamaha Entertainment Group, 2015).
He is a founding member of acclaimed contemporary jazz quartet Fourplay and has more than 2,000 album credits to his name and several GRAMMY-winning songs including “Get Lucky,” “Footloose” and “Change the World.”
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