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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

JON LUCIEN

By VINCENT ATTARD
Published April 14, 2006

Man From Paradise
Sugar Apple

Jon Lucien sprinkles much of his first release of the century with the Afro-Caribbean sounds prevalent in his musical youth. Man From Paradise is a bouncy, inspired ride spiced with opaque jazz guitars, faithful lyrics and vivid horns. Lucien’s baritone chops ring with familiarity (think Lou Rawls covering Al Jarreau), working to avoid overexposure or monotony. The opener, “See Through My Eyes,” starts smoothly in electronic jazz mode before forking at the halfway mark into walls of tribal vocals and percussion, making for a puzzling start. “Charlotte Amalie” flows nicely, with the exception of choruses more apt for Broadway than a jazz-based record. Lucien finds focus sharpest when carefully enveloping the roots, inside the jazz core of “Where Do I Go,” and underneath the flash-funk of “Shu-La-She Lay.” “Pretty Music” is titled appropriately, a meld of Caribbean percussion, salsa and heavenly sax helpings from the unbelievable Joe Ford. This album splits time between melodic coherence and jumbled confusion, but for taking chances alone it is worth exploring.