The release of the newest project by Threestyle featuring Magdalena Chovancova & Robert Fertl sent my curiosity meter into action for a few reasons. My first question was why this ultra talented Euro-jazz trio that has hit #1 on Billboard, is known and loved for their original stylish, soulful, exotic and sophisticated music would do a one-eighty with a five –song tribute EP of some of the greatest soul/rnb classics. However, the more I listened to these fresh interpretations of songs, the less I cared. Chovancova, Fertl, and twin sister and percussionist Gabriela, along with some highly reputable talent, are purely brilliant on the handful of timeless soul treasures that include Smokey Robinson’s Cruisin, the Spinners’ I’ll Be Around, The O’Jays’ Backstabbers, Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly, and the EP’s namesake, Barry White’s Let The Music Play.
Fresh, modern, and superbly produced and arranged, Threestyle delivers simply incredible versions of these songs. Guiarist/producer Fertl explans that it wasn’t easy to sift through decades of soul classics to honour some of the band’s favourites artists, but songs where guitar and sax were melodically complementary were chosen. Chovancova explains how the process was truly an organic one. “We wanted to record with live instruments, no programming, just pure playing”, she says. Percussion plays a major role in the recording and production of these hand chosen classics, and Gabriela utilized the Rototom drum, a rotatable instrument that can be tuned while playing, and
with the added dimension of cowbells, tambourine, conga and bongo rhythm where chosen. I have heard, and played many tribute versions of the tracks listed on the EP, and I can say without reservation that if you are not listening to the originals, these may be the finest instrumental renditions of them you may enjoy, and the added choral backing vocals of Fertl and Chovancova are simply the spice on the already delectable work. Full complements go out to the guesting talent on the project, including guitarist Steve Laury (Fattburger), drummer Rayford Griffin (George Duke), bassist James L. Manning (Billy Preston), and keyboardist Chris Troy (K-Ci & JoJo) whose phenomenal work adds an extra layer of smooth soul dimension. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two additional contributors making their recording and album credit debut. Gabriela’s 3-year- old daughter Nikita on percussion, and Robert and Magdalena’s one-year old daughter, also named Magdalena, who provided some chime playing. It looks like the process is in motion for perhaps Threestyle: The Next Generation to carry the musical torch.
Reviewed by Stu Berketo
Wave.fm On-air Host