A small selection of album reviews...
Reviewer: Smoothlounge.com, Sandy Shore
And what a swanky, swirling, sophisticated happy hour it is! A mingling mélange of smooth grooves and chilled tracks from beginning to end. Evolve has a superb and intelligent recording here; one that makes even the most blasé music enthusiast sit up and take notice with its rich instrumentation and arrangements featuring killer drum programming and loops, trumpet, flugelhorn and keyboards, as well as brilliant lyrical notions and outstanding vocals from the sultry Margo Reymundo and intriguing nu-rap from Tantrum. The man behind the evolution of Evolve? Only the coolest Brit in California with a name to match, Red Broad. Red's work on HAPPY HOUR IN THE GENE POOL is deep and poignant, yet shallow enough to wade in with friends while sipping cocktails. Evolve is genre defining in my opinion; a standard by which other artists should measure their work and quality. In a time when the music industry requires life support, Evolve has just shot an injection of clever and unique into its veins and offers the consumer a reason to buy the entire project, not just a tune. More please! More music that appeals to the senses and packages itself in a stunning, shiny digipak that you never want to put down. SmoothLounge.com invites you to Evolve.~SANDY SHORE
Reviewer: DJ GrooveTone
The GrooveTone Lounge of Liquid Soundz places "Happy Hour in the Gene Pool" as a "TOP Shelf" Lounge Groove. It is a rare thing indeed to find an album with so much well crafted sonic finesse. How many discs do you own, where nearly every track has such artistic clarity that you wind up listening to the whole thing whenever you put it on...without reaching for the next track button. This is an outstanding work...book me a room and bring on the chilled Martinis...I'm not going anywhere. Bravo! –GT
Reviewer: Kaffiene Buzz, -D Tha Man, May 30, 2007
Happy Hour In The Gene Pool, the debut CD from the group Evolve, incorporates the best of electronica with just a touch of jazz. Vocals provided by musical theater and jazz singer, Margo Reymundo, enhance lush production and arrangements from her partner in crime, songwriter/ musician Red Broad. The two are backed ably by several of their hippest friends, including Tantrum, Freddy Kron, and Cassandra Rachel. This collaborative effort works itself out over cool grooves and wondrous beats; songs that would be right at home on a typical So What?! Night with DJ’s K-Nee and Style-N-Fashion. The track “By Definition: Cool” says it all: a simple rap intro laced by warm drums that are then marinated by a jazzy trumpet solo throughout. “Mice On The Ice” takes a decidedly different turn, offering up knowledge-filled rhymes over a musical tapestry that has a strong bassline reminiscent of Rakim’s “Follow The Leader.” Meanwhile, Reymundo’s organic vocals bring class and pizzazz to the tracks “Where Were You (Sunday Afternoon)” and “Couldn’t Be More Wrong.” There is also a hint of her otherworldly voice that plays out on “Well I Gotta Story,” where her accent rises through. This is music for the fan of the poetry slam. Those grown and sexy folks who like their soundscapes culled from the pages of Digable Planets and the Herbaliser series, mixed with a smidge of Morcheeba. Their’s is a futuristic landscape that offers more optimism than Blade Runner. It’s time to evolve. –D Tha Man.
Reviewer: Aiding & Abetting (A&A June 27 2007)
Electronic mood music, sophisticated-like. Evolve never strays from the middle of the road, but it throws in an awful lot of interesting ideas into that highly-accessible sound. A nice bridge for those who wouldn't mind finding more adventurous electronic fare than what they're hearing now. –A&A
Reviewer: NEUFUTER, JMcQ
Evolve plays a very atmospheric brand of music that takes quite a few minutes to fully appreciate. “August Moon” is the first track on the disc, and before the beat goes into something approximating “From Your Mouth”-era God Lives Underwater, little can be felt about the band. Slow, Evolve finally comes into a storytelling type of music when the instrumentation settles down. No vocals are needed during the opening of “August Moon”, as the pathways and mazes that Evolve sends their listeners through are more than enough to get individuals listening in and interested. The same chill approach is taken by Evolve during the second track of the disc, “Well I Gotta Story”. The tweaking of the radio dials that opens up the track is worked into the later reaches of the song, which allows a greater amount of continuity to be present in Evolve’s music than in other acts. The vocal inflections during “Couldn’t Be More Wrong” start off in a non-lyric way, instead pushing forth the instrumentation. Soon after, the vocals start up, but they are not jarring in the least. The fact that Evolve can gently slide in the vocals into the warm bed of instrumentation previously unruffled by lyrics shows that the band is not a one trick pony. A second set of vocals takes the focal point of “By Definition: Cool”. The use of this set of vocals on that track throws everything into disarray. Everything else previously on this disc had been chill and calm, and the more rap-centric vocals during “By Definition: Cool” gives the disc a newfound energy. It is the right decision to make, and gives individuals the energy necessary to boldly forge on with the second half of the disc. The horns come back to cool off the track post-vocal stanza, giving the song a delightful back and forth that will stick in listeners’ minds well after the disc ends. While it is unlikely that any of the tracks on “Happy Hour in the Gene Pool” will make it big on MTV or pop radio, the songs are all amazingly-well done and will net Evolve more than their fair share of listeners. For those looking to listen to a chill CD, perhaps in the context of a house party, “Happy Hour in the Gene Pool” is that disc that has the rare combination of being compelling throughout and not falling into a rut at any point during the album, a trend that few similar acts can achieve. -JMcQ
Red Broad has developed his theories for music production. Is it “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny?” I don’t think so. Is it “survival of the fittest?” Probably not. These descriptions have been created to illustrate the theory behind Darwin’s “natural selection.” Some have called it evolution, but even Charles avoided the use of this term in his seminal “Origin of Species” because it implies an idea of perfection. In reality, Darwin’s ideas were meant to describe a process of change. Red Broad has chosen the name Evolve to describe his method for writing music that is a process of change. And, on Happy Hour in the Gene Pool each track moves and morphs to create a unique musical organism.
With Evolve, Red has perfected an experiment where many styles of music are assembled together that makes this first release stand out amongst the human population of electronic acts. Red is an English transplant who has made contact with some interesting collaborators On Happy Hour in the Gene Pool, and there is no lack of creativity here. It breathes of many different life forms from the triphop sounds of “Isolated, Detached & Remote” to the nujazz rebirth found on “Couldn’t Be More Wrong.” On the latter, we find the subtle, sultry vocals of Margo Reymundo that carries this track through a metamorphosis of sorts. This track is ripe for martini hour. Her wealth of vocal experience shines on “Couldn’t Be More Wrong” and on “The Way Back”, and the listener begins to believe that Evolve is an intelligent species. Happy Hour is further complimented with the nice beat work found on “Bushwhacked,” a name that we Americans might find humor in. “Bushwhacked” moves sinuously with a heavy bass line that carries an air of spy sophistication. The gene pool continues to remain diverse on this release as we hear the urban influence of Tantrum. “By Definition: Cool” and “Mice on the Ice” are his offspring, and Tantrum provides an edge with rap against hip-hop sounds that add to a well-rounded selection on Happy Hour. Other downtempo tracks like “Mellow” and “Rusty Ferrari” have interesting use of brass that is sometimes wrongly overlooked in the world of electronic music.
Throughout the 60 minutes on Happy Hour, we find an eclectic mix of electronic sounds infused with horns, guitar, lyrics, and great production work. Each track is an “evolutionary” process of musical “creation,” two words often considered polar opposites in the modern world of science and religion. But in music, Evolve proves that their process for writing the music on Happy Hour in the Gene Pool can cross any divide and create something beautiful.
Reviewer: Jazz Review, Ronald Jackson
Evolve is the brainchild of one Red Broad (no, that’s his name, not a crass description of a person!). He is a seemingly creative producer and songwriter who’s pulled together under his umbrella a vocalist, Margo Reymundo, and a few other names with which I’m not familiar. The material is fresh, catchy, and innovative, for the most part. It is essentially electronica with a classy touch of smoothness--Jazzmasters/Soul Ballet/Sade-style. The first half of this album is very likable. It has energy and a fair amount of imagination and doesn’t stray from that which is easily recognized and accepted by most of the smooth jazzers I know.
The first tune, “August Moon,” is a synthesized dream-like melody enhanced by a solid, steady beat. If you’ve heard any of the pieces on the Quintana and Speer Shades of Shadow album released some years ago, you’ll know what I mean A new age feel, heavy on synth, but not without serious smooth jazz undertones. That’s followed by “Well, I Gotta Say,” a very alluring and melodious Dancing Fantasy-type of groove. E-volve is not short on melody, for sure. That’s one of its saving points. Clever sound effects are mixed in this cut for flavor and “kick.” Admittedly, it’s a little monotonous with no discernible bridge or chorus, but it still has appeal. I guess it’s safe to say that the whole song is its hook. Track 3, “Couldn’t Be More Wrong,” is more of the same, but with pretty effective vocals from Reymundo, who, by the way, carries a tune quite nicely overall. We pick up the funk on track 4, “By Definition: Cool.” This one opens with attitude and some rather cool, well-placed, often even smoothly poetic rap. This happens as a soaring, singing, sweet trumpet played by Evan Avery, who is a prominent factor throughout much of this album, joins in. Track 5, “The Way Back” is most reminiscent of Sade and is actually a fairly memorable piece. So it goes through several more impressive tracks. Then, we hit a slight change in direction, or emphasis, I should say. Track 8 ushers in more pronounced sound effects and decidedly more electronica than jazz. In fact, it rather drowns out any semblance of jazz. Track 9 goes even farther down that road, with angry, somewhat profane rap and other distractions. Maybe this is still part of the creative process(?), but one can get sidetracked easily here. Suddenly, folks, we’ve got a new album of electronica/rap. I have to say that, personally, I was disappointed, having settled in for some more of the infectious, remedial, even if somewhat monotonous rhythms and melodies. Track 10, “Where Were You (Sunday Afternoon)” attempts to get us back to where we were (on whatever day we were listening to this before the change!). It does so rather nicely and effortlessly, which leads one to be curious about the abrupt change in the first place! The vocals are soothing, the beat rhythmic and evenly paced, and all’s well in “Evolveland” again. Well, there are some rather odd effects and moments elsewhere, like in the last track.
All in all, this album is pretty imaginative, well-conceived, and well-produced, even though the absence of distinct bridges takes a bit away from it all, in my opinion. If you don’t mind skipping over a couple of ill-placed cuts, you might easily find this album to be a keeper. I did. -Ronald Jackson