Eric Frazier

Find Yourself (Then Find Me)

Walk the Walk; Talking Silly; The Sun Will Shine Again; Eagle Eyes; Bueno Gente; If I Didn't Know; Don't Get Too Close; It's All Love; Nobody Knows Me; Find Yourself; The One For Me Total Time: 74 minutes

I was not familiar with conga player, singer, and composer Eric Frazier before this CD, but I was hooked from the first track. Blending straight-ahead and hard-bop Jazz with African and popular music sensibilities, the entire album is upbeat and infectiious, with catchy melodies and rhythms. The word that keeps coming to mind is "positive" although Frazier's lyrics, liner notes, and biography make no mention of religion or spirituality, I couldn't help but feel that he has been, or would be, as much at home in a church band or gospel group as he would in a Jazz club.

The 74-minute CD is a bit like 2 albums in one. The first 5 tracks are original instrumentals, featuring varied personnel of 7 to 9 members per song. Each track features 3 horns (various reeds and brass) and piano playing melodies and solos; the horns often harmonize with strong unison lines, gliding above the rhythm of Frazier's congas and various combinations of bass, drums, guitar, and other percussion. "Bueno Gente" has a Latin tinge, and the other 4 can bring to mind the Afro-Jazz or Afro-Pop of Hugh Masakela or Sunny Ade. But there are plenty of Jazz chops throughout, with especially fine solos from pianist Danny Mixon and tenor saxophonist Wayne Escofery.

The last six tracks have similar personnel, but add Frazier's lyrics and vocals to the mix, along with some responsive or backing female vocals. Frazier's voice is smooth and pleasing, and you can hear his smile on each track. The theme is mostly romantic love, but only "lt's All Love" comes close to being a ballad. The rest all swing, with "Don't Get Too Close" having some tongue-in-cheek humor, and the fun "Nobody Knows Me" recalling the New Orleans sound of Rebirth Brass Band.

If you want something brooding or moody, look elsewhere. Otherwise, check this out.

by Howard Feldstein