The French born keyboardist, whose recording career stretched back to the '80s, had been out of the contemporary jazz mainstream -- and recording mostly in Japan -- for several years when he scored an unexpected hit in 2006 with his trio rendition of Steely Dan's "Do It Again." Rather than stick to the vibe that broke him through to popular acclaim, on his Koch Records debut the multi-talented artist returns to his trademark global grooving. Celebrating a recent move from New York to Los Angeles, Philippe Saisse reconnected with two old musical mates, drummer Simon Phillips and bassist Pino Palladino, and hooked up with an impressive guest list: hornmen Jeff Beal and Michael Davis; popular urban jazz cats Jeff Golub, Marc Antoine, and Kirk Whalum; percussionist Lenny Castro, and Beninese vocalist Angélique Kidjo, winner of the 2008 Best Contemporary World Music Album Grammy, who co-wrote and performed on Saisse's 1999 African flavored worldbeat/electronic dance hit "La Vie." Kidjo and Saisse pick up where they left off on one of the disc's most explosive tracks, the wild, hypnotic African world jam "Assante Sana," which also features acoustic guitarist and oud player Annas Allaf. Whalum, Braun, and Davis form a powerhouse horn section behind the keyboardist on the exotic, intensely percussive swinging free jazz jam "Roppongi Blues," while Antoine and Beal help create the dreamy and sensuous late night vibe of "Topanga Moon Dance," which was inspired by the location of the friend's house Saisse stayed at before moving his family West. That home belongs to Bill Howell, the grooving inspiration behind the old-school, easy swinging "Billy's Blues" featuring Jason Golley on trumpets and flugelhorn. Saisse balances his pop, rock and funk-infused tracks like the classic rock edged "The Rover," "Monday Afternoon" and the cleverly titled, autobiographical trio jazz opener "From Nowhere to Now Here" with the film score lush "Through Tainted Glass," a piece reminiscent of some of Saisse's early new age-jazz efforts. At World's Edge was one of the most exciting and explosive contemporary jazz sets of 2009.
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