There are but a few contemporary jazz ensembles that can boast of having more than 20 solid years of hits in their discographies. However, Pieces of a Dream, celebrating 30 years of funky jazz with Pillow Talk, have done just that. The powerhouse contemporary jazz combo -- which can always be depended upon to provide all the right party grooves and the sublime essence of smooth jazz -- reinvents itself on 12 songs that feature sexy riffs, infectious grooves, and the compelling vocals of Ramona Dunlap. Led by acclaimed funkmeisters keyboardist James Lloyd and drummer Curtis Harmon, "House Arrest," an instrumental song with a house-style beat, opens the set. The danceability of "House Arrest" is what makes this song so happening. On "Triflin'," "Those Three Words," and "Your Love," vocalist Ramona Dunlap examines the visual rhymes that weave their way through the group's collaborations. On "Triflin'," a song she co-wrote with Lloyd and Cherie Mitchell, her style is somewhat reminiscent of Lalah Hathaway and Jill Scott, but the synchronicity is all her own. Her scats and raps are right in line with the background vocals of Cherie Mitchell. "Sincere" features the exemplary sax work of Tony Watson, while "Attitude" sets Lloyd's complex piano lines and Watson's full-bodied sax riffs against a hip-hop backbeat. "Teresa" is a beautiful midtempo ballad dedicated to Lloyd's wife. His gorgeous piano melody is a metaphor of beautiful emotions. The title track closes the set with the flair of melodic jazz-pop. If you go for this style with its sexy edge and catchy hooks, you'll find plenty of new signature riffs and harmonies here. Pieces of a Dream have taken a fresh approach to their sound, and their craft is solidly defined. There is a creative fit that will put you "In That Mood" to make great "Pillow Talk."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein