With a title like “Caption This,” keyboardist/composer Jakob Magnusson – aka the popular, eminently grooving artist formerly known as Jack Magnet – all but begs us to dig for colorful words and an apt description of his latest cool, funky and retro flavored soul-jazz single. The first that comes to mind is seductive. Then simmering. Sultry. Swaying. (Lots of s’s!) And now a phase that captures its inviting organic vibe: old school cool. Although it’s on the same EP (High North) that has Magnusson’s prior single “Hook, Line & Sinker,” and is also produced by genre hit making master Paul Brown, the overall flow and tone of the new track is delightfully different. It’s less in your face and more about caressing your heart with a warmth, intimacy and subtle nudge towards the way contemporary jazz was recorded back in the day. Cool and warm at the same time? That’s the magical conundrum on how we use words to describe music here!
Whereas the earlier tune featured Magnusson’s playful acoustic piano and the muscular sax of Jeff Ryan, “Caption This” rolls more like an updated version of a classic, deeply rhythmic but melodically and harmonically freewheeling Crusaders track. Weaving an infectious melody (often with the dreamy harmonic pairing of flugelhornist Snorri Sigurdsson) and then taking us on a spirited and hypnotic improvisational adventure, Magnusson showcases just why he’s considered Iceland’s foremost musical icon and one of the most renowned Fender Rhodes players in the world. Brown is also on hand, using his guitar to keep the retro magic crackling gently – like an echo from an earlier era – in the background throughout. And let’s not leave out Lew Laing, who keeps both the rhythm tight and the atmospheres hoppin’ as both drummer and synth player. As you listen and vibe along, you can almost imagine late cats like Joe Sample and George Duke chiming in their approval and coming up with witty captions of their own from above and beyond.
Listen to Caption This on Smooth Jazz Buzz (Playlist 19/4).