Azul is a fiesta of Spanish and electric guitars accented with lilting trumpet, piano, accordion, and spicy Latin percussion, whisking the listener away on a musical vacation to the sunny climes of the tropics. Recorded in Toronto and the Dominican Republic the album features Johannes' signature lightning-fast fretwork, unforgettable melodies, sultry vocals, and rhythms that ignite the soul.
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The album kicks off with the title track “Azul” whisking you away to a tropical island and if you close your eyes, you’ll swear you can almost feel the tropical breeze and smell the ocean air. His music has the ability to transport you to places all over the world. You’re gonna need a passport!
Then get ready to move as the next song “Cha Cha Chu” with it’s Santana-esque feel has Johannes showcasing his electric guitar talent which is quite impressive. The one thing I’ve always admired about Johannes, is that though he is the “nucleus” of the group, he collaborates with some pretty amazing musicians who are bright shining stars in their own right. He’ll step back while they showcase their talent like the powerful chops on trumpeter Alexis Baro as he lets it rip in an amazing solo run as the rhythm of the talented percussionist Anastasios Bigas gives it a nice spicy flair that will have you up out of your seat dancing. Then there’s always the ever present “All about that bass” Jarrod Ross and the fiesty accordion, keyboard and piano player Jordan Abraham who lets loose in the lively “Friday Night at Babaluu.” Geoff Hlibka’s rhythm guitar and harmonizing background vocals add a solid backup to the group’s rhythm section. When this group comes together, it’s pure magic!
Time to cool it down with the next number, “Lazy Sunday”. This is, in fact, what a lazy Sunday sounds like. A beautiful, relaxing ballad that will touch you deeply with the soft and tender way Johannes always manages to play to make you really appreciate the genuine nature of his heart.
“Surrender to Me” with subtle background vocals gives this song a sexy, romantic feel that will make you weak at the knees, completely ready to surrender. He plays with so much passion and it is highly evident in this song, and every song, that he pours himself into his music as you can feel it in every note. (“Killing me softly with his song” comes to mind here.)
What came as a pleasant surprise on this album, is that we get to hear him sing. What a beautiful, sexy voice which you’ll hear in the catchy tune “Be My Girl” and “Hechicera”. But I must advise you, when you listen to Hechicera, you need to watch the video that goes with this song. The scenery is deliciously exquisite and perfection. And I wasn’t referring to the Dominican Republic landscape (though that is beautiful and a nice touch). <That hair….giggling-blushing> I don’t speak Spanish so I’m not quite sure what he’s singing, but whatever it is, it sure sounds sexy!
I could say something about every single song on the album as they are all sooooooo good, but I’m gonna just end by saying that if you’re a connoisseur of music, this album is a must have to add to your library. Amazon only allows you to give it a 5 star rating, but if I could, I’d give it a perfect 10 because it is! In a nutshell, it’s “Linsteaderific”!
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I felt that, for whatever reason, it was not up to Johannes' standard.