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Tony Darren's SUN SONG

Jimmy's talented son Tony Darren has a wonderful CD available entitled "Sun Song"

Smooth Jazz and contemporary jazz artists should look to Tony Darren's debut on Telarc, Sun Song, as inspiration. Darren has wonderful, musical quality to his acoustic guitar playing, with accompaniment that is tasteful and elegant, and a modern touch in the arrangements that don't bury the entire album in drum machines or synthesizers like many of his contemporaries these days. The songs work well at creating moods--check out the lively "Brazilia" and CD opener "Carnival," the pensive "Jaco," or the subdued intimacy of "Kari." Darren also takes the microphone for a decent vocal on "Sails." It's also nice to have a cast of all-star musicians working on this album; this gives the accompaniment a solid feel, vs. the tentative first steps of a new group still wet behind its ears. Very interesting, beautifully melodic, and above all, Darren's accomplished guitar work leading us on his musical journey. Highly recommended!

Reviewed By: Neil Rudish  Visit 52nd Street.

Acknowledging that he couldn't roll all of his jazz, rock, country and blues influences into his high-spirited acoustic guitar debut Sun Song, Tony Darren emerges with a style that is not as jazz intensive as Metheny's, yet snappy along the light funk lines of Benson's trademark "Breezin'" and heavily Brazilian. The one guitarist who is not on Darren's influence list but whom smooth jazz listeners might make the connection to is Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons; Darren's clear, precise, laid back but prone to wild flights of fancy approach recalls Freeman's best acoustic fare. The notion also makes sense in light of Darren's similar deftness in the instantly memorable songwriting department. Few of these tunes (half produced by Al Schmitt, half by keyboardist Gregg Karukas) ever stretch the artistic limits of the genre, but they do make for a, well, sunny listening experience. Darren and his producers know the best way to test the kid's mettle is to surround him with veteran all-stars. He has to play lightning quick and delve into some dazzling solo territory on "Carnival" to keep up with the increasing percussive temperature cooked up by bassist John Pena, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and Lenny Castro, who goes for a wild jungle soundscape effect. Darren's brisk, funky lead melody lines on the title track more than match the energy Karukas throws into his playful mid-song solo. But it's not always about running a race; on the soft-lit trio flavored "Kari, " the guitarist's remarkably restrained phrases rise over brief elegant harmony chords of Joe Sample's piano, all nudged slowly along by Colaiuta's drum brushes.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Widran Visit AMG.

As I listen to the seemingly unending stream of contemporary jazz being issued these days, I often ponder what it is that makes some CDs stand out as being likable, worthwhile and recommendable, while others just seem like manufactured formulaic ear candy. I've never heard of Tony Darren prior to receiving his CD Sun Song for review, but both the initial audition and repeated listenings place this CD solidly into the former category.

So: What makes this one work? The compositions, all but two by Darren, are likable in an easy-going sort of way. They seem to absorb many tunes that have come before and package them in new ways; they're new but they make you think you've heard them before. A plus for me is the fact that all the parts are played by live musicians, and in this case it's an All-Star cast: Gregg Karukas or Joe Sample on keyboards, Vinnie Coliauta or Land Richards on drums, John Pena, Alex Al, or Keith Jones on bass, Lenny Castro and / or Brian Kilgore on percussion, and Dino Saldo and Tom Scott (on one cut) on sax. The expertise of these musicians certainly helps the music along. And perhaps the most subjective, intangible quality this CD has is taste; simple, eloquent, good taste.

In any event, this CD pushes the right buttons for me. I like it.

Reviewed By: David Hughes
Visit All About Jazz.

Easy on the ear, relaxed and sunny melodies prevail on acoustic guitarist Tony Darren's debut album. Boasting many top-notch players like Gregg Karukas, Joe Sample, John Pena, Vinnie Colaiuta, Tom Scott and others you get an album that fullfills your expectiations. All songs are original compositions by Tony Darren and cover latin, pop and jazz with the exception of the covers of "This Will Be" and "Sails" (featuring Tony on vocals also). My personal favorite is the radio friendly "Late Night" that embraces you with its laid-back groove and lovely guitar melody being topped by beautiful solos by Gregg Karukas (keys) and Dino Saldo (sax). This album is not your usual smooth jazz fare - instead it is a quiet, relaxed, acoustic affair perfect to chill out and enjoy some of the genre's finest musicians in a slightly different setting. This one is special.

Reviewed By: Peter Boehi
Visit Contempo.

Having only heard the title track on one of last year's JAZZIZ cover CDs, I knew I had to buy the album. Although this guy is a newcomer, he has put together what can only be described as a 'who's who' of the jazz world on this, his first album. All the tracks are played with perfection, and the mood can only be described as bright, cheerful, and uplifting. My friend just borrowed this CD from me to help him revise for his exams, and he wants to keep it till they're over! Good for him, bad for me. I still want to listen to it despite having bought it over 8 months ago. This is one of the gems of my collection.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Yap
Visit JAZZ Personal favourites....

Tony Darren
Sun Song
Telarc Jazz Zone
1998 Time: 46:26

Musicians: Tony Darren (guitar); accompaniment includes Gregg Karukas (keyboards), John Pena (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Tom Scott (saxophone), Dino Saldo (saxophone), Joe Sample (keyboards), Lenny Castro (percussion), and others.

Songs:
* Carnival (Darren) - 4:45
* Sun Song (Darren) - 5:03
* Late Night (Darren) - 4:38
* Kari (Darren) - 3:16
* Uptown (Darren) - 4:30
* Brazilia (Darren) - 5:26
* This Will Be (Jackson/Yancy) - 3:12
* Quiet Time (Darren) - 4:03
* Jaco (Darren) - 2:41
* Union Square (Darren) - 5:08
* Sails (Hall/Hall) - 3:28



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