510JAZZ - THE ALBUMS 2015 - 2020


"BOSSA510"

2015  

BOSSA510 - The debut album from John Vargas' all star multi-talented ensemble kicks off with a funky bass and guitar intro which moves into Jazz Funk seamlessly incorporating some 90s style Hip Hop.  David Vargas (known as D-Varg and John's son) provides the cool, summery rapping while R n' b star Jamillions provides some chilled vocals.  It would almost be the perfect Pop song but the twist of Randy Merril's flugelhorn makes it just that little bit more unique.

 

COME WITH ME - A delightful Latin Jazz style track that again infuses Rap and the Bossa style.  A lot slower pace than the previous track with some beautiful Soul vocals from Nikki Rey fronting a lisght, laid back backing.  D-Varg again provides the Rap sections while Nikki harmonises in support.  A really nice chilled song.  Actually reminds me a little of LL Cool J tracks from the late 80s.

 

OCEAN BREEZE - Feeling like you are chilling out on a beach taking in the cool breeze in Summer.  The superb Jazz horns from Randy Merril (flugelhorn) and Esther Berndt (sazophone) carry the feeling and emotion throughout the song with sophisticated crooning vocals from Jamillions.

ASILOMAR - An unusual, ethereal backing track consisting of flute, guitar and chimes.  It seems quite sad but somehow Nikki Rey's sultry, chanteuse vocals seem to convey positive emotions and a calming effect.  Nice.

STRANGER IN BRAZIL - The first composition written by John Vargas after being convinced by his son David to write.  A quirky and light track with a hint of Funk and sounding like a summertime jam.  The song is about a guy travelling to Rio De Janeiro and searching for this mysterious girl he fell in love with.  Bystanders and passers by just see him as the Stranger In Brazil.  Percussion and horns mesh with one another to provide a sweet backing for John Vargas' vocals.

MAUI MOON - A beautiful Pop love song with Nikki Rey and Jamillions duetting this time.  The title reflects John Vargas' 30th wedding anniversary trip to K'anapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii.  A smooth jazzy Pop ride which undoubtedly makes the listener feel good and also has special memories for John too.

RAINY DAY IN BORACAY - Jamillions takes the vocal role again on this deceptively upbeat, but eerie track.  The moody "rain" soaked backing makes it unusually a little sad and also positive. Mark Rickey's synths give it an extra boost giving off a stormy backdrop.

NIGHT ON REDFISH LAKE - Vocal duties turn to John Vargas as he takes on the role of a smoky bar room crooner.  This piano led, emotional and almost strange backing gives off the feeling of quiet wonderment.  It apparently evokes memories of John and his son Andrew seeing the stars being reflected on a lake.  This laid back Jazz ballad is a nice, relaxing trip.

SUMMER TAKE ME AWAY - Vocalist Oshra Sedan leads this fusion track that is a little R n' B, a little Motown and a little Jazz.  Its a delightfully chirpy, upbeat song despite it being provoked by feelings of sadness after a vacation has ended.  This track is supposed to encapsulate that feeling of excitement and positivity of a coming vacation and how quickly it should come, I imagine!

ATLANTIS LOST - A smooth, typical Jazz track that is a tribute to John Vargas; grandfather, Antonio Francisco Vargas.  Jamillions takes on the vocals in this poignant story of everyone missing their "Atlantis", the place they had to leave to find themselves or find something better for their families or their future.  

SUNDOWN IN PACIFICA - An upbeat Latin Jazz track vocalised by Nikki Rey once again.  Reminds me of Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine in style.  Its slightly funky, latin dance backing give it an uplifting feel.

CAFE IN LEBLON - A chirpy, slightly Pop style Jazz track with some cool vocals from John Vargas. I love the flute and piano in this track.  The song was inspired by Brazil's legendary songwriting duo Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius De Moraes.  They wrote the song "The Girl From Ipanema".  The song reflects on how it could have been in 1962 to write the leading Bossa Nova anthem. 

FOUNTAINS OF YOUTH - Vocals by Jamillions and backing vocals by John Vargas on this Jazz ballad.  The hint of Latin percussion is here and the horn and piano lead the song to the usual smooth Jazz heights.

THE BAY TRAIL - Nikki Rey leads the song that is a nice fusion of 60s style Bossa and almost sounding like gentle, summery Trip Hop reminding me a little of Morcheeba. The percussion seemingly sounds a little off beat at times, not a continual beat which cleverly adds to the track's ambience.  

HIGHWAY 1 - A lovely, light Acoustic ballad led by Tony Song's beautiful classical guitar.  Inspired by the amazing California coast highway, Highway 1.  Jamillions' vocals are emotional, heartfelt and uplifting.  Close your eyes and relax to this one.

DAY IS DONE - An epic classic Jazz break up song finishes this debut album with 5 and a half minutes of stunning, sultry, emotion from Nikki Rey's vocals.  Esther Berndt's saxophone enhances the feeling of the track.  A fascinating first album which can delight both Bossa fans and other genres' listeners. 



"JANUARY 16"

2018


RIGHT NEXT TO ME (Featuring Matt Blaque/D-Varg) -  The album opens with a medium paced Samba crossover with a big summery vibe.  It is a fun, bright and breezy number with hints of Michael Jackson ("Off The Wall" era) and Gloria Estefan's Miami Sound Machine.  D-Varg's rapping gives it an updated appeal to younger listeners who may not have heard music like this before.

HE MADE IT ALL FOR YOU (Featuring Ricki Wegner)
- A kind of Pop/Jazz feel to this track.  Its an easy going song and Ricki's vocals have that beautiful pure live sound of Norah Jones and also reminds me of the 80s band Matt Bianco in its style.  The minimal backing showcase the vocals brilliantly and make for a soothing chilled gem.

PLAY SOMETHING BLUE (Featurung Maya Victoria/D-Varg) - This is reminiscent for me of the Trip Hop downtempo fusion of 90s band Morcheeba.  Maya's breathy vocals imitating the band's lead singer Skye are perfect for this track and with D-Varg sounding like LL Cool J its a great track.  A chillout session to refresh the soul!

THE MOON AND YOU (Featuring John Vargas) - A serenading romantic ballad with all the attention on that special someone.  The faint Bossa backing with strings and horns more in control it reminds me of the Rat Pack guys like Sinatra, Martin and Davis Jr where its the lyrics and vocals that take centre stage.  If you dream of just you and your partner in an empty bar and the band serenades the words you want to say, this is the song for you!

DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE AWAY ( Featuring Kristen Nicole/Nick Neira) - This tells the story of a long distance love affair and would be a great piece for a romantic musical where the two leads share their feelings towards each other alternately.  Simple composition but it is a lovely song, with Kristen and Nick singing it beautifully with great emotion.
 
 

FLY AWAY ( Featurung Nikki Rey) -  Another Pop/Jazz track, and again it fills the listener with a cool, relaxed summer sensation.  This time there is a Hawaiian element in the sound and you feel your head nodding to that Bossa beat and see yourself under a parasol drinking cocktails.  A really lovely song

STORMY WEATHER (Feauring Ricki Wegner/D-Varg) - A slow tempo R n' B/Soul crossover with the Hip Hop vibe once again ably given by D-Varg.  It reminds me of a couple of songs by Beyonce and her husband, Jay-Z.  A positive message that all will be ok however bad it sometimes feels.  The positive rap reminds me of Old School rap by originals Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel not the angry rap that is more often heard today.

YOU'RE EVERYTHING TO ME (Featuring Maya Victoria) - Maya sings like a chanteuse in a local smoky bar here, with some lovely harmonies and doubled up vocals it sails along smoothly like a relaxing boat ride.  Silky Saxophone and sweet strings make this another soft ballad to relax to.

THE LONG WAY HOME (Featuring Mr Mego/Kristen Nicole) - An exploration driving trip on a relaxing Saturday is the backdrop to this track.  Again this would be another brilliant idea for a musical piece.  The lady and gentleman in question decide on taking "the long way home" as we all sometimes want to do, just to enjoy the scenery, drive at a leisurely pace and ignore the honking of the roadhogs in a rush! Beautifully sing once again and the backing music has a faint chug-a-chug feel of a moving car.  Very nice.

SAN JUAN ISLAND SUNSET (Featuring Oshra Sedan) - A real Latin influenced Jazz track.  Brings up images of sitting on a beach with not a care in the world, not only just brought up by the title of the track.  The horns and strings make this a happy little track that gives you a good feeling of wellbeing.

VIEWS FROM MY WINDOW (Featuring Matt Blaque/D-Varg) - A mass fusion of styles inorporating Hip Hop, Jazz and a little R n' B but still keeping that minimal Bossa drumbeat.  Experimental and in some ways reminds of me of some of Prince's mid 80s phase with orchestration, electronics and Jazz mixes.

THE ROCK OF LIGHT (Featuring Mr Mego) - A look into what it might have been like in Malaga when King Ferdinand was assaulted in 1487, a major battle in the reconquest of Spain from the Moorish Invaders.   With dark overtones such as this the song is obviously downtempo and with minimal flamenco-esque backing it reminds me of a Stevie Wonder positivity track.

SERENDIPITY (Featuring Oshra Sedan/Mr Mego) - A laid back track about leaving the everyday struggles behind and travelling the world.  Just like "Don't Take Your Love Away" and "The Long Way Home" this is a perfect song for a musical piece.  I wonder if the band would consider turning this album into a musical, with the right people it could be great!

LIFT IT UP TO GOD (Featuring Nik Nak/Ricki Wegner) - An upbeat Latin Jazz track that gives a positive message that no matter what is happening you are not alone.  The song has a great Soul and R n' B vibe that reminds me of classic late 60s/early 70s laid back Pop artists.

HORTENSIA (Featuring Nick Neira) - Minimal musical style track with some aspects of it being of a mystical style, with the flower in question (the official flower of Faial Island in the Azores) having a mysterious, soothing effect on the singer.  Experimental vocals including doubled up echoes and faint chants.  Unusual track!

JANUARY 16 (Featuring Rick Wagner/Matt Blaque) - The album ends with the title track, which is quite unusual from the albums I have reviewed thus far.  A tribute to a beloved mother and grandmother, Jesusa Estrada Cerezo.  Ironically the only track where the Bossa beat is almost hidden, this is the most Pop sounding and modern track on the album.  Could be easily placed within the 70s and 80s R n' B and Pop Soul of these eras' superstars.  Lovely end to an intriguing album.





"THE BOSSA NOVA"

2020


HUMMINGBIRD OF SPRINGTIME (Featuring Oshra Sedan) - The opening track of the third album following 2018's "January 16" is a beautiful, mellow ballad.  Oshra  Sedan's vocals are lush and pure and lift the seasonal Spring feeling to even bigger heights. The strings give an almost bird song melody, which is perfect as the song is about a visiting Hummingbird to a garden.  The rhythm is nice and slightly upbeat, giving an almost Ska or Reggae hint on the Jazz feel. 

BACK HOME (Featuring Anna Konstantopoulos)
- A smoky Jazz bar ballad with Anna Konstantopoulos taking lead vocals in a breathy, sultry style reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe.  The flute takes centre stage with the singer and gives a slight Trip Hop feel to the track.  It is easy going, light, dreamy and uplifting all at the same time.  Nice, relaxing listen. 

FATAL ATTRACTION (Featuring Maya Victoria and Matt Blaque)
- This track is duet between Maya Victoria and Matt Blaque.  A smooth, upbeat ballad which reminds me of some 80s style Latin influenced tracks by bands such as Miami Sound Machine.  It also adds hints of Hip Hop effects and gives a "musical" soundtrack feel as well as some delightful guitar.

CALLED TO THE SEA (Featuring Oshra Sedan
) - Oshra Sedan again takes the vocal lead and this time drops the tone down to a more moodier level.  It has an almost Folk vibe running through with the strings giving just that little bit of eerie ambience.  The song teases often that the mood will lift to a brighter tone but just keeps itself in check to a steady melancholic feel. A nice, soulful track suiting Oshra's vocals perfectly.

SUMMER RAIN (Featuring Anna Konstantopoulos)
- A bouncy, moderateley upbeat track about the enjoyment and feelings of a thundery rainfall in the Summer season.  Pure, easy going Jazz with an uplift.  Anna Konstantopoulos gives a more bright and breezy Pop vocal to this track, ironically as it is about rain! The Saxophone makes it a smooth ride and the soulful vocals merging with the backing track effortlessly give it more depth.
 
 

THREE LITTLE WORDS (Featuring Maya Victoria, Matt Blaque and D-Varg) - A cute, quirky and sweet melodic ballad about two new sweethearts in love.  Maya Victoria and Matt Blaque provide the duet while D-Varg adds some Rap to give it a Trip Hop feel.  Reminds me a lot of some 80s R n' B/Soul songs.  It has the most Pop feel than some of the other tracks.  It's modern and a radio friendly hit for sure.

THE BOSSA NOVA (Featuring John Vargas and D-Varg) - A spoken word marrative over a Bossa Nova rhythm by John Vargas (singer/songwriter and producer) and son David Vargas (rapper aka D-Varg, songwriter and engineer).  Although not technically a "song" as such it is an interesting tribute by two guys who obviously grew up listening to Bossa Nova and now give a fitting tribute to the genre with this album of their own.  A nice commentary ending to a cool album that can propel this brand of Jazz/Latin based music to new listeners.






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