Paula Atherton | Can You Feel It Review
By Griff Stevens
Paula Atherton is a saxophonist, flautist, vocalist, and composer who has won fans and industry respect through a career that spans six albums and performances with many contemporary jazz musicians. Her sixth album, Can You Feel It, has already hit an accomplishment of having the first single, the title track, skyrocket to #1 for multiple weeks in a row. Atherton has shared the stage with such contemporary jazz notables as The Rippingtons, Nick Colionne, Chuck Loeb, Cindy Bradley, Karen Briggs, Althea Renee, Rick Braun, Four80East, David Sanborn, Bob James, Marc Antoine, Hiroshima, Gerald Albright, and Chieli Minucci. Paula has also worked in the traditional jazz field; one of the notable performances being a weeklong engagement at the Blue Note NYC with pianist and jazz legend, Hank Jones. . Paula also performed with Grammy award-winning singer Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Annenberg Theater for the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival.
Can You Feel It opens with “One Night in Madrid,” which was produced by Lou Gimenez (guitar) and Bill Heller (keys). Atherton performs the joyous melody on flute while the rhythm section lays down a smooth Latin inspired feel. The rhythm section is Kip Sophos on bass and Lionel Cordew on drums. Heller’s keyboard playing is beautiful, both during the melody and his solos. Atherton’s flute sound is warm, focused, and shimmering with energy. Her solo has a beautiful shape while still being active and melodic. Her technical palette is vast as she trills and plays harmonics combined with impeccable rhythm as she further colors with her hues of articulations. This is an excellent start to the album, and Atherton demonstrates her playing and composing abilities.
Patrice Rushen’s Top 40 hit “Forget Me Nots,” finds Atherton showcasing her warm soulful singing and alto saxophone skills. The ensemble nails the opening riff with flawless execution; Atherton’s saxophone leads us to the vocal melody, adorned with hip horn hits and full backing vocals. Cindy Bradley joins Atherton on trumpet and trombone for this selection. Roy De Jesus is on bass, and Lionel Cordew is on drums; together, they lay down a serious groove that is augmented by Jorgen Kjaer on keys and Gimenez on guitar. The arrangement is fresh, and Atherton’s playing is passionate on this one. Her saxophone is soulful, and she builds the energy with wails and quick emotional passages that build momentum.
Atherton’s prowess on alto saxophone is unquestionable; her ability to weave closely-knit ideas into a fabric of colorful and vibrant melodies is matchless. On select tracks, Atherton’s vocals are a prime vehicle of soulful endeavor. Can You Feel It is a triumph of proportional greatness.
Release Date: August 24, 2020
Label : Dream On Records