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Gabriel Mark Hasselbach - Open Invitiation

Posted by Terry Sweeney on 2015/02/17

Gabriel Mark Hasselbach's sheer talent alone has long made him worthy of having his name mentioned in the same sentence with many, if not all, of his contemporaries on the jazz music scene. For anyone to argue the point, I would openly invite them to get a fix of Gabe's new energy charged release Open Invitation and learn the truth.  Because the truth of the matter is that the west coast based trumpeter has rifled off an astounding collection of freshly written tunes which explain why music critics and smooth jazz media are all over this one with ramped-up enthusiasm, and open arms and ears.

Open Invitation is a collective effort with some of Gabe's A-list friends dropping into the sessions to complement this 10-track labour of love, following up his 2012 sensation Kissed By The Sun. Among the smooth elites are keyboardists Greg Manning, Cal Harris Jr., Bob Baldwin, saxophonist Bob Mintzer of the Yellowjackets,  the multi-faceted Lew Laing Jr. (co-writer and co-producer), just to offer quick list of the notable talent infused throughout the project.  The lift-off for Open Invitation was the skyrocket single Propulsion which with a funky energetic rhythm and the painfully tight trumpet jabs alongside Manning's electrifying melodic piano brilliance, easily had the first release soaring skywards on numerous smooth jazz charts and playlists. And while the album inspires several moods and styles, it's the lead off track in particular that I find sets the precedent for the overall representative sound on Open Invitation.

Charmed Life is undeniably stylish and charming, working with keyboardist Baldwin to meld their talents into a nearly endless mid tempo melodic explosion. Gabe does it up spectulary on Let's Do This Thang, as he and guitarist Olaf deShield offer up a richly flowing and bouncy groove, complete with lush trumpet, guitar, and synthesized melodies to make this track another instant pick hit. Enlist a legend like The Yellowjackets' Mintzer and you instantly set yourself up for another winning track such as Let It Ride, another solid of example of funk infused groove with attitude that is as playful as it is serious. Showcasing Gabe's multi-dimensional talents as a performer, composer, and producer is the soulfully romantic track Lovelight with the sensuous vocals of Dee and Brittani Cole.  It's a simmering slow burn and perfect mood setter to signal the start of potential 'night games' once the sun fades.

If there's one thing that is consistent about Open Invitation it's  that the encompassing sound brings together all of the elements of an album that raises the bar for coolness, style, chicness, and a compelling elegant vibe. Yet it's only accomplished by the enormous talent that exists on the recordings, and backed up by brilliant instrumentation and some of the finest production techniques, which only enhance the razor sharp trumpet work, airy and melodic flute work, edgy flugel horns, in addition to the perfect rhythmic and synthesized arrangements. 

But if there is one winning ingredient that makes this a top priority for smooth music lovers, it's the heavy dose of passion that takes every aspect and effort of Open Invitation to whole new level.

Reviewed by Stu Berketo


Vickie also reviewed this album. Here's her review:

He is back ... and he is back with more horsepower than a flaming Ferrari!  The big winner at the 2012 Smooth Jazz Awards, Gabriel Mark Hasselbach is full steam ahead with his new CD "Open Invitation", rocketing out of the gate with an open-throttle collection jam-packed with energy, verve, sass, bite and a whole lot of groove.  From the passionate power of the lead-off single "Propulsion" (featuring the blazing chops of Greg Manning on piano) to the funky-fine finesse of "Charmed Life" (with Bob Baldwin) to the silky smooth sensuality of "Lovelight" (with Dee and Brittani Cole adding velvety vocals), Gabe is a man-on-fire on every track.

No stranger to star-power, he has worked with Michael Buble, Steve Oliver, Jeff Lorber, Paul Brown, Bob James, Gino Vanelli, Rob Tardik ... well, you get the picture. This Vancouver-based musical master plays with the big boys because he can. Whether trumpet, flute or fluglehorn (oh how I love that word!) GMH proves time and time again that he is worthy of every accolade. Top twenty Billboard hits, a Juno, several smoothies and a west coast music award, he is only just getting started. Open Invitation invites all music lovers to a first-class party of performers. Cal Harris Jr., Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets) and Rock Hendricks (Paul Hardcastle) also show up and it's like musical champagne a-flowing. Every track is original (both literally and figuratively) and sumptuous.  My only complaint - when Gabe sent me the CD he signed the cellophane cover. Oops.

No matter, honey. I don't need your autograph. I will accept your Open Invitation and anxiously await the next one from a true trumpeting treasure.


Vickie van Dyke
Morning Host


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