Gabriel Mark Hasselbach - Kissed By The SunYou might think that Gabriel Mark Hasselbach might have been a bit nervous recording a follow-up CD to his 2011 Canadian Smoothies award winning project Told Ya So. But that’s hardly the case. And though his previous CD is a hard act to follow, the west coast trumpeter is literally hotter than ever with his new release Kissed By The Sun. You don't need to go any further than the CD case itself to realize that notion, as Hasselbach's lineup of extraordinary artists reads like a musical dream team. Here he brings together names that are in no way unfamiliar to the smooth music lover, including bassist Brian Bromberg, Chuck Loeb, fellow ‘Canucks’ Rob Tardik and Walle Larson, saxophonist Rock Hendricks of Paul Hardcastle's Jazzmasters outfit, and keyboardist and production wizard Jeff Lorber. Kissed By The Sun is almost entirely written and produced by Hasselbach and Lorber with sessions recorded in Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Winnipeg and could go down as Hasselbach's most inspiring and creative collaborative offering yet. While not to ignore any of his previous efforts that have earned Hasselbach great respect, accolades and honours, Kissed By The Sun totally dismisses any notion that a horn extraordinaire like Hasselbach doesn't know how to get his groove on. The album is not only funk infused, but also rich and heavy in rhythmic melodies and tempos, which makes this latest project both pleasing and catchy throughout the entire ride. The first single Starpixie takes the album right out of the gates with its mesmerizing sound and beat, accented by Hasselbach's rich textured horn jabs and Lorber's stylish and playful keyboarding. The two are just as brilliant in their musical pairing on No One Like You, yet another hot up-tempo groove that doesn't cool down for an instant or even one single note. While tunes like King James and Lock It Up offer heavy doses of 'funk-itude', Hasselbach, Loeb and Bromberg are an awesome trio on Funk In Deep Freeze, a calmly smooth and bluesy track with a feel and sound of the traditional jazz era. Kissed By The Sun is an outstanding collaborative mix of some of the finest instrumentalists who accent, compliment and meld their talents beautifully with those of Hasselbach, who could easily be enjoying his finest musical moment to date. If you think the summer of 2012 has been a scorcher at times already, slide a copy of Kissed By The Sun into your CD tray and get set for an extreme heat alert!
Reviewed by Stu Berketo