Integration : 'Hard Bop is the focus of most cuts often mixed with rhythms and sounds of the Far East. The biting, driving caustic tenor of Otrie Barrett Jr. has a major role throughout. He's heard to good effect on the title tune where his sax weaves in and out with Chakos' guitar and Singaporean native Joshua Wans' piano. This cut recalls those exciting hard blowing small group sessions of the 1960s which featured Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd and Jackie McLean et. al. There's an effective mix of hard bop and Latin on 'Coming Home' with Otrie Barretts' sax and former Miles Davis' percussionist Steve Thorntons' bongos leading the way on an exciting eight plus minute album opener. The didjeridu is featured along with the percussion on the exotic 'Sulawesi Sky', with the Australian instrument emitting sounds of the Australian outback. Matters turn bluesy with 'Inspiration Blues' and the jazz funk on 'Funky Monkey' with Barretts' sax taking on a Jimmy Forrest mien on the latter. Chakos' single stringed guitar playing highlights a lovely ballad 'From the Heart'. Chako wrote all compositions but one. All show a flair for imaginative application of tempo and harmony filled with some unexpected jagged rhythmic diversions guaranteed to keep listener attention. Integration is recommended! - David Nathan, All Music Guide, USA, 2001 'Chako, the composer, takes his inspiration from the rich Blue Note lode. Echoes of Shorter, Hancock,and Dorham reverberate through these tunes with the opening 'Coming Home', and the driving 'Inspiration Blues', powered by Edmond Bransons' offbeat high-hat setting the tone. ' From the Heart' ventures into more contemporary, easy-listening jazz territory. Otherwise, the pieces all sound like they could have found a home in the Jazz Messengers' book. They fall easy on the ear and sound like they'd be rewarding to blow on, and as such fulfill the composer's intent. Chako benefits from uniformly heartfelt performances from all hands, and his own playing is, as usual, clean-lined and to the point. This is a fine addition to his growing discography.' - Cadence Magazine, USA, 2001 'Chako has a laid back approach with clean and attractive guitar lines... Pianist Mei Sheum has a delicate touch and provides stimulating accompanying lines... Perera plays the Australian didjeridu which adds substance on 'Sulawesi Sky'... 'From the Heart' is a good ballad with interesting counter lines from trombonist Hill, and a mellow solo from the leader... The title track, 'Integration', is a brisk Latin styled swinger with appropriately well integrated ensemble work and solid solos (with the leader in Wes Montgomery mode)... The percussionist, Thornton, gets a good workout and nice trading with the drums... alot of work has gone into the preparation and arrangements for this session and the result is very enjoyable mainstream jazz!' - Jazz Journal International, UK Put nine original jazz compositions, one excellant guitarist and some talented jazz cats in the studio. Add a dash of Latin rythmn and an occasional sprinkle of Australian aboriginal instrument, the didjeridu. Mix well and savour slowly. The product: a musical concoction so potent, it'll have listeners craving for more! ...Chako tries his hand at composing and the results exceed expectations, bringing us on a musical journey through funky grooves, laidback tunes and romantic ballads. The cast oozes with class and style, making listening a sheer joy. 'Integration' is a magnificent showcase of immense jazz talent sure to turn heads among jazz aficionados worldwide...' - IS Magazine, Singapore The playing all around is marked by effortlessly fluid solos, and Chako's playing manages to be appropriately groovy ('Funky Monkey'), tense-spacey ('From the Heart'), and ferocious (the boppish blues 'Inspiration Blues'), while sacrificing none of that coming- right-at-cha feeling...' - 8 Days Magazine, Singapore Many nationalities, but one great sound!... Chako executes a dashing solo on the medium-fast 'Coming Home' to open the proceedings. 'Saito's Serenade' is a tender waltz, followed by fusion-flavored accents on 'Sulawesi Sky'. 'Inspiration Blues' is a twisting tune unleashing a burst of energy for the swinging solos that follow. Chako switches to a mellow mood and legato phrasing on 'From the Heart', with a neatly done trombone voicing behind the guitar. 'Poinciana' is given a swaying rendition, enhanced by didjeridu background. 'Funky Monkey', perhaps the highlight of this CD, locks into an infectious Latin groove that's relaxed and catchy... Chako is determined to leave an imprint, enriching the local entertainment and cultural scene for a long time...' - Straits Times, Singapore A musical gem deserving wider recognition... tastefully fuses local ethno-cultural influences into his music... The improvisations and the compositions are strong... everyone sounds like they were having a ball in the studio and the line-up is impressive... The best thing is that it covers a wide range of jazz styles, an inspiring CD made all the more so by a guitarist who plays only with his thumb...' - The New Paper, Singapore '... a blend of musicians and music of different cultures. His jazzy playing is relaxed and confident. Most of the upbeat tunes share a groove that will your head bounce. Of note are 'Coming Home', ' Inspiration Blues', and 'Poinciana'... solid and entertaining! Performance 4 stars, Sound 4 stars' - Jazz Newsletter O's Place, USA.
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