Island Dance by Leon Ayers Jr.
This is the genuinely refreshing third offering from a truly gifted keyboardist who’s cranked out two previous projects (Down the Middle in 2005 and a sampler called Compilations in 2003), both of which somehow flew under my radar screen.... until now. I will certainly be calling upon them for a demonstration after hearing this spectacular display of freshness and melodic flavor.
Leon Ayers Jr. (I immediately attempted to somehow make the obvious association to the famous vibes master, Roy, but that wasn’t to be.... at least not as far as my research would take me) proves here on Island Dance that playing good keys doesn’t just happen and certainly isn’t about pressing magical buttons that make things automatically and systematically happen. It’s the good ol’ fashioned manual manipulation of the ivories that really makes the difference. Case in point: Witness tunes like the title track, which features that good ol’ fashioned manual skill combined with lilting, rhythmic, highly melodic, and authoritative tonal quality and a very tight hook. That’s directly followed by a smoothly funky and equally melodic, rhythmic ,and hook-tight track two, "Aphrodisiac." Track three, which seems to give a nod to fellow smooth jazz keyboard colleagues like Bobby Lyle, Marcus Johnson, and Roger Smith, this one hops, and I mean hops, off with that uniquely halting style of funk.
Each piece on this album is played with deliberate, professional precision and meticulous attention to detail, structure, and feel. It’s clear from the opening and title track that Leon Ayers Jr. approaches his music quite earnestly and with a passion that only true aficionados of the art can appreciate. There are no gimmicks here. No pretentious smoke screens and sound effects to hide what isn’t. All is laid bare to reveal what is. This one comes highly recommended by me, your everyday smooth jazz aficionado. There’s simply not a bad tune in the collection, in my opinion. One of the safest investments you can make in your smooth jazz collection and yet another name that I personally will go out on a limb and predict we’ll hear in the studios and see on the stages across smooth jazz America in months and years to come. A joy to experience in a business where mediocrity can sometimes become an accepted commodity. Great venture, Leon.
ARTIST: Leon Ayers Jr.
Nataly’s Corner features the music of jazz composer, keyboardist, and producer Leon Ayers Jr: The first thing you should know about Leon is that he is not related to the infamous Jazz/Funk artist of the 70s and 80s, Roy Ayers Jr. I say this because the last name is a “dead giveaway”. But he doesn’t have to be related to Roy Ayers because, for a musician who’s been in the business for a short time, Leon’s music background and accomplishments is just as interesting as that of his predecessor.
Leon Ayers Jr. - Compilations
It's the task of a reviewer to cast the light on albums which are unknown whatever are the reasons. Leon Ayers Jr. 's album "Compilations" deserves a review because of its well-rounded fantastic mood.
Leon Ayers Jr. is a master of keyboards as shown up on the introducing 2300 Commercial Suite. He has a good feeling for perfect arrangements. Although this is a self-made one-man album, the professionalism is undoubted. The smart voice of Connie O'Steen-Evans is the icing of the top on Whisper Over The Rain. The song presents a superb combination between piano and keyboards.
On Sleepless Dreams Leon reveals his mastership in slow gentle phrases. The lead melody is performed on piano framed by strings and essences of keyboards. Leon's piano play on Bonnie In The Forest is subtle and captious. More romantic mood is audible on Sentiments of Valencia. Instead of a helter-skelter which is produced by many drum programming one can hear Tom Rice's live percussion with bell-tree, triangle and wood sticks. A tenor sax would nicely harmonize to this arrangement.
Miracle is featuring anew Connie O'Steen-Evans' warm vocals. Leon's performance, the arrangement, the choice of instrumental accompaniment on keyboards, there is nothing to criticize, just perfect. Jhada is a word of the Sanskrit. It's also the name for a fantasy figure and a person of the Indian religion. Jhada is a secret, draped in the nebula of time. Leon's musical interpretation is the nucleus of this mystification.
Connie O'Steen-Evans and Leon Ayers Jr. are anew the ideal combination on Never Let Go. I also know to appreciate the rhythm part.
You will not find Satahooville on any street map but only in the musical imagination of Leon Ayers, the wizard of keys. The hip hop rhythm background is recognizable on Queen of Kings. Although I like the keyboard sounds they hardly can replace a good brass arrangement. Leon did the best out of it. Funky! A little New Age is to find on Tears of the Wind. A romantic piano melody accompanied by pizzicato tones. Tom Rice and Leon's collaboration find its summit on Mystery Woman. A dark painted brawl of keys and rhythm.
Leon Ayers Jr. 's album is highly recommendable. A must for all collectors of Smooth Jazz.
It Takes More - Leon Ayers Jr.
The airwaves are typically saturated with the mundane, so it isn't surprising that true talents such as Leon Ayers Jr. are often overlooked. Music has been a life-long passion for the Detroit native who enrolled in musical composition and jazz theory at Gross Pointe Conservatory and Wayne State University. After gigging in and around the Motor City and after many years of touring, Ayers channeled his energies into producing and composing for various artists all while maintaining his jazz roots. Included as part of an extensive résumé are the hit soap opera All My Children and America's Most Wanted as well as five releases under his own name. From It Takes More, the most recent of these, we give you more of the music we luv* in the title track!
5.0 out of 5 starsWorld Class Smooth Jazz
By Jason R. Hemmings on January 28, 2016
Format: Audio CD
One of the best contemporary jazz musicians today. Great tunes, catchy melodies, smooth bass, world class.
5.0 out of 5 starsFive Stars
By Roderick Hudson on November 24, 2015
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Another nice discovery. This is my kind of music.
By LarryLuv on March 18, 2016
First from this artist and I loved from the 1st to the last....Smooth!
5.0 out of 5 starsSuper Cool Smooth Jazz
By Robert J. Scott on January 28, 2016
Format: Audio CD
Great music, uplifting melodies, smooth jazz at its best.
5.0 out of 5 starsA Barrel Of Smooth Funk
By Bill Ross on August 26, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Leon Ayers "Here We Go" surprised me. I had sampled the tracks and thought it was worth the purchase so I ordered it. It exceeded any expectations that I may have had. Solid smooth funky grooves from start to finish. I believe it was a do-it-yourself project, as there are no music credits of any kind. The one problem that I have with this CD is that it has the absolutely worst packaging that I have ever seen, escpecially with an $18 price tag. It ships in a slim-line jewel case, which I don't like because it has no spine with the name of the artist & CD title, so when I file this one on the shelf in between Avenue H and the B-Tribe, it will disappear between the jewel cases. The cover booklet is a single (half) sheet and doesn't even list the track times. I put more effort into taking out the trash then they put into the artwork for this CD. I'll be interested in hearing the next offering by this guy, but good grief Leon, put a little effort into the packaging on the next one, or else slash the price.
5.0 out of 5 starsFive Stars
By Joseph Haskins on October 7, 2015
The song is absolute smooth!