Alex Bugnon

As Promised

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Alex Bugnon has long given Phillippe Saisse a run for his money as keyboardist most willing to blend the widest variety of synth sounds and effects beneath a gorgeous acoustic piano style. His Narada Jazz debut ...As Promised is his first recording in several years, but the buoyant song remains pretty much the same; retro soul effects, brief but memorable brass section flourishes, spacey synth sounds, and throbbing basslines pave the way for a powerful return. A master at mixing moods within the confines of one tune, Bugnon opens "Onward, Upward" with elongated, ominous, low-toned chords, twisting them up with a clicking wah-wah guitar and a shimmering Hammond B-3 before erupting with a full-on, optimistic, brass explosion on the hook. In between choruses, his fingers take spirited walks toward the upper register of the ivories. While most of the tunes feature this kind of lively piano excursion, on "All That I Can Say," Bugnon sticks to a murky Fender Rhodes melody, skipping over a samba-like groove and the occasional bluesy, electric guitar interlude by Mike "Dino" Campbell. He takes a slightly avante-garde funk approach on "Chasing Spirals," weaving a few sweet piano improvisations and Gerald Albright's winding soprano lines through a maze of dark, bluesy, electric piano chords, spacey atmospheres, and moody basslines. Bugnon's retro mind goes full-throttle on "His Coolness," with a tradeoff between the spacey sounds and the type of croaking funk lines that Stevie Wonder used on "Superstition."

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