When in 2005 I reviewed the album ‘Heavy Vibes’ from the smooth jazz and fusion band Airborne I suggested that they were re-igniting genuine old school jazz fusion in a way that was part Tower Of Power, part Ambrosia and very much in the spirit of 5th Dimension. Now New Haven, CT based Airborne are back with their fifth CD release ‘Turbulence’. It retains much of the excellent fusion that grabbed attention the last time around and widens horizons to demonstrate huge empathy with the music of many cultures.
In fact the entire collection is a rollercoaster ride of moods and emotions, writing credits are shared between band members Greg and Thomas Borino, Thomas Sansone, and the superb vocals of Elizabeth Dellinger are at the core of all its best moments.
The hugely expansive ‘Festival At Sunset’ is fuelled by Airborne’s hallmark horn driven sound
and ripples with pleasing Latin grooves. Those same luscious tones and that same Latin intensity are equally prevalent for ‘As We Journey’. Soulful, and with a gospel message buried within, the track is illuminated by the amazing voice of Elizabeth Dellinger and as the band continues to show its versatility they find, in ‘Hillside Swing’, a big band vibe that is uniquely Airborne.
Although ‘Smooth Sailing’ is as melodic and ‘in the pocket’ as its title suggests it might be the complexity that the band often engenders is never too far away. ‘Native Search’ draws clear influences from Native American rhythms while ‘Drums Of Peace / Awakening’ bristles with an African inflection every bit as potent as Lamont Dozier’s seminal ‘Going Back To My Roots’.
The song’s message is delivered in a hugely accessible way and this accessibility is again to the fore with ‘What About Love’. Totally typical of what Airborne do best, the band takes its time to build this smoldering ballad in a way that others might not but, in doing so, produce a track of genuine substance.
Tight, edgy and spliced with wonderful backing vocals, ‘The Message’ could be a synonym for everything that Airborne represents and the band stays in soulful mode for ‘Can’t Fight Love’. Here sumptuous horn riffs abound and the luscious vocals of Elizabeth Dellinger again portray just how influential her input invariably is.
In the final analysis, ‘Turbulence’ is a fresh and eclectic mix that is well worth discovering.
Denis Poole – Smooth Jazz Therapy