Multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Osaru has created his second work of multi-cultural audio art, HOME WITH THE KEYS, and it’s truly a CD to be savored. This North Carolina-based physician infuses his music with lyrical sax melodies (created from the keys utilizing the WX5 wind controller for maximum expression), jazzy guitar riffs, melodic electric piano harmonies, dynamic percussion, and dazzling vocal effects. The resulting sounds are truly amazing… more so when you realize that he does everything himself, from the instruments and vocalizing to the tracking, overdubs, mixing, and arranging. All of the elements click beautifully on HOME WITH THE KEYS, and the result is a truly outstanding collection of compelling Smooth Jazz songs, many with an intriguingly engaging African twist. From African percussion at eight years to church organ at nine and keyboardist with a band as a teenager, Osaru has honed his craft well. This one’s a keeper! ~SCOTT O'BRIEN
A multi-instrumentalist, self-producing wunderkind, the North Carolina-based Osaru has much in common with Steve Wonder – right down to his deeply positive outlook. All the Way, his just-released third album of silky smooth jazz and friendly R&B grooves, moves with a similar sense of joyful purpose.
Osaru opens with the title track, bringing to bear many of the talents that will shape the 10 originals that make up this consistently listenable project. He creates an approachable cadence, then explores a tandem conversation between saxophone and keyboards. From there, Osaru adds a swirling, wordless vocal that works in interesting counterpoint to the song’s lightly propulsive island-themed percussion before Osaru begins to unspool the rhythmic focal point. “All the Way,” as it draws to a close, slows to a sensual crawl – creating this moment of gorgeous tension.
It’s clear from the beginning that this album will be an interesting melding of atmospheres – something like the modern soul of Seal or John Legend, something like the smooth jazz offerings of Najee, Boney James or Paul Hardcastle, but then very much original. You also get the sense that Osaru takes such profound pleasure in what he’s doing, and that leaks out of every corner of the tracks that follow.
“Sunrise,” perhaps as expected, is a more upbeat affair, shot through with polyrhythms and a chirpy sax that’s simply bursting with optimism. Osaru then stirs in these intertwining vocals, more whispered than sung, which give the track a very modern feel. He follows much the same path later on “Swagger,” perhaps an even better example of his ability to blend textures and styles. If there were a template for a hip hop ballad, this would be it.
“Listen” has its own propulsive, upfront beat, but again Osaru deftly confounds expectations, this time by including a languid, deeply romantic solo on the WX5 wind controller. He also expands the album’s musical palette further by adding a flourish of acoustic guitar.
“Always,” meanwhile, sounds like some of the intriguing final experiments that Miles Davis was undertaking before his death two decades ago in combining jazz with rap’s rhythmic structure. Osaru replicates that plaintive mute on the keyboard, then answers it with a series of lovely retorts on the sax. He then completely switches gears on “Floating,” playing with the sweetly conveyed mainstream fluidity of Kenny G, even while adding a frisky bass line.
“Those Days” and the Africa-themed “Where you dey go” are perhaps the most directly reminiscent of classic Wonder tracks, with their insistent groove and soaring sense of purpose. Even while offering an articulate, and yet very insistent, turn on the sax on “Those Days,” Osaru constructs a robust musical setting driven by a bone-deep bass line, a winking electric keyboard and these softly enunciated percussion lines. Then, on “Where you dey go?,” Osaru goes even further, layered more rhythmic counterpoints, even while continuing to unfurl these twilit thoughts on the sax. There’s so much going on here, it’s an insult to call this music something so rudimentary and bland sounding as “smooth jazz.” This is contemporary R&B, and done very well.
“Chillin” settles back into a comfortable, early-evening atmosphere, as Osaru takes a swaying approach to the horn – a smart thematic idea after a pair of more challenging pieces. “Listen Again,” the album closer, moves even deeper into this contemplative vibe, all the way into the blue-black of late night. Osaru leaves us with a caressing, profoundly emotional performance on the sax. The only complaint there is that this final truncated track doesn’t go on any longer.
Album: All the Way
Reviewer: Nick DeRiso
Rating: 4 stars
All the Way
Home With The Keys is a smooth jazz CD that will delight your ears. It is a superb album full of sexy grooves and romantic interludes. A must have for the smooth jazz fan!
Most people who think of smooth jazz these days are going to think of Kenny G. Well, now they a new name to think of, and that’s Osaru, who has created a magnificent album of smooth jazz that will chill you out on the hottest of days and take you below zero when the temperatures are cool.
Home With The Keys is Osaru’s second album and its aptly titled too. Listen to the solo sax on these tracks. Those beautiful sounds are made with the keyboards, a breath controller and a wind controller. That’s impressive to say the least.
The songs have a very low tempo, lets take it to the bedroom type of vibe. Each track seems to speak to you in an intimate manner. I call this album an instrumental album, but there are vocals, but when the tracks use the voice its more as an instrument creating a unique sound than it is singing to a lyric; particularly in songs like Pretty Lady one of the more mid-tempo tracks, where those vocals give the song an almost tribal sound and yet later the same song closes the album with a totally different feel to it with the Slow Jam Version, which gives the song more of a romantic, turn the lights down low and snuggle closer feel.
Home is probably the track that moves me the most. There’s something about the groove that gets the hips swaying. Its one of the lower tracks but the music really compels the body to move. Its like the music reaches out and asks you to dance and you have no choice but to accept. How could you resist? The sax solos give new meaning to the word sexy. The sax grooves on in Downtown which can best be described as a Saturday night song. I love songs that create an image in my head, and this album is full of them. When I listen to Downtown, I can see Pittsburgh on a rainy Saturday night with people hustling about to get to the theaters, clubs and bars. A song that can make you visualize, especially one without lyrics, is something spectacular. The music is telling its story and that’s a hard thing to do. Kudos to Osaru for filling an album with songs like that, as well as songs that make your body want to move.
So slip Home With The Keys into your CD player, grab a glass of wine, or better yet, a whole bottle, turn on the music, close your eyes and relax and let the music take you wherever it leads you. Osaru’s latest album is the perfect way to chill out after a long day or any day for that matter. Home With The Keys is an album that fans of smooth jazz will be thrilled to add to their collections. Osaru has brought something special to his listeners ears and all we can do is say thank you for the beautiful music, which we’ll be playing for years to come.
...In his latest project, Home with the Keys, Osaru creates a smooth jazz journey through the course of ten-tracks, unlocking a melodic menagerie of muse. Home with the Keys exhibits Osaru’s songwriting ability and finesse on the keyboard.
... The keyboard allows him to tap into the unbounded creative potential of each song. Like a master painter, Osaru’s keyboard is his easel while the sheet music is his canvas. He “paints” with a unique aural ambience. Within each track a new soundscape emerges, with an unsullied innovative style. Home with the Keys contains all-original tracks that were all written, arranged and mixed by Osaru into a plethora of various styles that display influences from Kenny G and George Benson to Earl Klugh and Steve Cole. The album opens with “Made up my Mind,” with its unique urban-based background vocals and hauntingly seductive sax. With a Baby Face styled backbeat, “Home” mesmerizes with subliminal and sublime riffs. Hints of R and B overlay jazzy melodic hooks in “Downtown” and “Last Night.” “Let’s Begin” cleverly flaunts Osaru’s talent in arrangement and composition with a vibrant mix or urban funk and jazz. “I wanted to keep the listener guessing. There’s a story behind each song that I had to ensure was maximally expressed,” states Osaru. Indeed, with its blend of slow jams and mid-tempo cuts there is a song that fits every human emotion. Osaru’s jazz journey is a twisting and surprising one with unpredictable creative intersections on each avenue of style and leads directly to Home with the Keys.
'...rich, soothing melodies...'
No doubt a piece of solid and carefully thought out work. I love "Made Up my Mind" ...... but I have listened to "Last Night" a thousand times. It fills the room. Then makes it quiet. Then fills the room again. Love the interplay between rhythms - an obvious story that tries to carry the listener along (on a journey). There is a lot of heart and emotion in the entire work. The melody sticks with you. Great work!
Regarding the CD, Home
'This is a brilliant piece of work. Keep it real is solid - straight down-to-earth vocals. I love the hip-hop slant to it.... and of course the melody is great.
How did you do the background vocals? The song "I know" is my favorite though. I really love the way the back vocals came to life much later and then the jazzy ending to it too. You dont have the "pretty lady" song loaded yet... just the piano version. I'd love to hear it since you talked about it in the line-up of songs.'
Osaru is a musician, composer and vocalist who lives and works in the heart of the Piedmont Triad in North Carolina, USA. His debut CD, Home, now available on CD Baby, takes you on an R&B and Jazz infused journey through his early adult years to the present day. It celebrates life, love and long-term commitment.
Osaru presents the listener with classic R&B vocal styles and movements that keep the overall vibe more ambiguous as the instruments also stay specifically within tried and true R&B perimeters. The prominently instrument-heavy mix offers a relaxed melody and rhythm that is definitely not over-produced and presents an old school feel to Home. An older crowd could surely attach themselves to the vibe as well as younger crowds that relate to and enjoy a classic R&B sound.
The chemistry of sound and production between Osaru’s vocals and music lends itself to a relaxed and in the background feel. The direction of rhythm and feel on Home stays very consistent and within itself while the production and composition work makes sure not to experiment with other musical influences, avenues or production. Home’s sound engineering takes interesting liberties in offering less low-end frequencies/bass and much crisper and noticeable highs/high-mid frequencies and his smooth vocal delivery left me wanting to hear them more prominently in the mix.
Osaru’s lyrical themes are classic and the production makes no attempt to deviate by mixing in or innovating the album with a more 2008 Pop/R&B sound. The lower vocal mix gives Home a more private/bedroom music vibe.
As opposed to the vocals and lyrics fueling the emotions of the album, the high music mix is the engine of the tracks. The instruments are what may encourage the listener to stay in the emotional moment while being only slightly egged on by the vocals.
On Home, it’s obvious that Osaru gives his very personal best and is particularly passionate about his work. To be in the audience at a live Osaru performance at my nearest Jazz or R&B lounge would definitely be an enjoyable and interesting night.
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Ahmad A. Farzad aka “Nastii”– MuzikReviews.com Contributor
October 9, 2008
Osaru is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer. He owns and runs a production house in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, where he is working on a variety of Smooth Jazz and R&B projects...
'...Extremely soulful and equally talented Composer/Vocalist Osaru blends a combination of musical styles to bring his fans something memorable. Recently, Osaru completed a Q&A with our magazine regarding his music. It was a fun and enlightening spotlight that revealed the many sides of Osaru...'