Manner Effect’s debut release Abundance is an original take on modern jazz, soul, R&B, rock and pop. It features nine original compositions as well as three covers from composers Chick Corea, Michael Jackson and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The opener, “Passing Time,” is a great introduction to the band, contrasting the light sounds of the introduction with a hard hitting bridge and mixed-meter melody. The concise solos are supported by a funky and melodic groove.
“Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly,” by Chick Corea, is one of three covers on Abundance, and is a re-imagining of the original: changing the tempo, groove and phrasing of the melody. The result is an uplifting feature for Charles, and includes her only improvised solo on the album.
In an explicit nod to their love for pop music, Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” demonstrates the groups creative force, blending
intricate grooves, solos, and Charles’ soaring vocals. Consistently an audience favorite, “Earth Song” is a showcase of textures that leads to a dramatic ending.
The title track “Abundance” is driven by a piano based groove that underscores the uplifting message of the lyrics. Starting off with a ballad-like feel, it builds to a tame roar, staying rooted in its head-bobbing theme.
In a sharp departure from the beginning of the album “Hope” attacks with attitude and velocity before breaking down into a multi-layered R&B/Hip-Hop feel. Lyricist W.E.S. is featured on a verse followed by a memorable saxophone solo from Curtis.
“Flying” showcases the high level of group interplay and communication while navigating a constantly shifting harmonic landscape. The groove is highly danceable, anchored by catchy bass figures and vocals.
The third and final cover is the famous “Corcovado” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Re-harmonized and set to a loping West Texas theme replete with bells, Charles shines in her interpretation of the familiar melody.
“One Snap Decision” and “Theodore” show Manner Effect’s aggressively swinging side. Instead of playing it safe, both songs veer into new territory as they move between tempos and extreme textural changes across solos. The first is a medium-tempo song with a second half departure into darker terrain, while “Theodore” is an up-tempo hard-bop burner with an elusive introduction, an exlosive drum solo from Davis, and is one of the only tracks without lyrics.
A true ballad, “Longing For” brings the listener in close with Charles’ captivating vocals, Roberts’ lyrical bass solo and Thomas’ enveloping rhodes solo.
“X Marks The Spot,” a funky jam that has been described as “Headhunters with vocals” is a feature for Curtis’ virtuosic
saxophone playing, here with a harmonizer effect.
The album ends with the stripped down ballad, “The Way It Was.” A short but sweet melody, accompanied by acoustic guitar, percussion, soprano saxophone and piano. It’s a beautiful way to end an album full of surprises.