Italian/German Artist Eric Van Aro takes some well-known classics and originals and comes up with an appealing new album titled Friends.
Van Aro is a veteran in the entertainment business, working in several different facets over the years. All of his experience pays off on this collection of 12 jazz infused tracks. He has a great voice, filled with warmth and melody.
“He’s Misstra Know-it-All” is a lively tune that has an intoxicating rhythm and rhyme to it while “Gershwin-King-Taylor Medley” is one of the more interesting adaptations of a pop medley turned into a jazz groove that you would ever hope to hear. Either you will love it or move on to the next track, there is no in between. “The Painting In My Heart” plays to the singer’s strengths quite well; I found it to be one of the best tracks on the CD, and its quickly becoming one of my favorites and I think its one of his as well because it’s the only song listed with the words in the CD sleeve. “Not The Boy Next Door” is superb as well, it has a nice rolling Latin flavoring punctuated by the signature Van Aro vocal stamp, at times he sounds as if he is ready to break into a scat (he saves that style of vocalization for “Pick Up The Pieces”), but stops and the tempo of the song changes. The title track is also a showcase for the singer and the band’s musical prowess. The bass line drives the song along while the keyboards get down and funky. He sounds so relaxed and natural throughout the track, no doubt the soundtrack he sets the vocals to create that comfort zone. Speaking of highlights, the most prolific track on the album is “Be Somebody.” The words are aimed straight for the heart; it’s a slice of life and reality in between musical notes and the voice of an inspired artist. This one song really put the icing on the proverbial cake for me.
This kind of album requires a few listens before a concrete opinion emerges. For me, I liked it on the first spin but only after the third spin did it really hit home entirely. I ‘heard’ everything that made the recording what it is; I guess three really is the charm. Who ever said a jazz album was easy to interpret any way? You will not hear this writer ever say that. Van Aro has a fine group of musicians from Italy to accompany him, which besides his innate musical sense, makes this entire project such a success.
November 18, 2005
01. Put the Weight On My Shoulders (3:43)
02. He’s Misstra Know-it-All (4:10)
03. Gershwin-king-taylor Medley (5:10)
04. The Painting in My Heart (5:29)
05. Miles Blowin (4:40)
06. Water Under the Bridge (5:24)
07. Not the Boy Next Door (3:44)
08. Friends (3:45)
09. Pick Up the Pieces (4:57)
10. Be Somebody (5:52)
11. Won’t Play No More (2:56)
12. My Buddy (2:21)
Eric Van Aro-lead and backing vocal arrangements
Flaviano Cuffari-drums arrangements
Massimo Scoca-bass arrangements
Tony Casuscelli-keyboard arrangements