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Smooth Ride –Threestyle Ft. Magdalena Chovancova

Posted by Shannon Ella on 2017/03/27

It may sound a tad cliché, but describing this smooth Euro-trio as an actual family affair couldn’t be more truthful. Czech born Magdalena Chovancova (saxophone, flute, keyboards, backing vocals) and her German born husband Robert Fertl (guitar, bass, backing vocals) are not only composers, arrangers and producers, but the husband/wife duo are the core of one of Europeans fastest rising bands whose talents have earned them recognition and chart success here in North America. But the story doesn’t stop there. Factor in her twin sister Gabriela who has handled percussion duties and the familial connection is the perfect trifecta.

Now that you’ve met the musical clan, it’s on to taking a smooth ride through this exceptional new album that is an enticing kaleidoscope of moods, tempos and styles, and features a collection of revered musicians. In addition to the talents of the Chovancova twins and Fertl, Smooth Ride is rich in talent with Nils, Jimmy Haslip, Lew Laing, Roberto Valley, James Manning, Grammy winning producer and man of many instruments Paul Brown, and the soulful and sensuous vocals of Latonya Black are all among the list special guests on the album. Smooth Ride boasts two Billboard charting offerings; the exotically romantic and laid back first release "A Little Longer", and the newest release, "Road To Monterey". I like to think of this superb track (currently on the Wave Top 10) as the signature or unofficial title song. A funky vibe infused with addictive guitar licks and sweet melodious saxophone accents give this tune smooth swagger and finger snapping style. "Back In Da House" brings an old school party element to Smooth Ride and is a melange of tight sax and horn arrangements, steady bass lines, chic guitar and a pumped rhythm that just won’t stop.

Chovancova, Fertl and additional company further showcase their musical dexterity and and versatility on Smooth Ride with yet another refreshing and elegant track that ranks among my (many!) favourites, "Days Gone By". With a mid tempo grove, these two shine on this notably vibrant tack with some reflective emotion. "Casais Breeze", named after the Portuguese coastal town, is smooth and delectably airy like a breeze off the ocean with Chovancova’s flute melodies and solos combined with and punchy yet light Latin rhythm.

Where Smooth Ride detours into sweet soul territory is with the addition of vocalist Latonya Black. Her flowing voice brings a stirring quiet storm element of R’n’B sensuality and intimacy on the chill out track "Like Butta Baby", and is an honest metaphor for her singing. Black earns additional reverence on her spirited and respectful R’n’B/jazz cover of Al Green’s "Let’s Stay Together", which ranks as one of the finest covers among many that I’ve heard.
Chovancova, whom I’ve personally gotten to know quite well since 2015 explains the simple concept behind Smooth Ride. She says ‘European jazz meets the west coast. We’re from Europe and we have musicians from all around the world, but mostly special guests from the west coast’

Smooth Ride is anything but a beeline journey. The musical winds and turns are destined to take the listener on a very satisfying experience through some exciting and exotic terrain.

Reviewed by
Stu Berketo
On-Air Host HD2


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