Yoron Israel’s recently released CD, “Visions: The Music Of Stevie Wonder” is unique in that it is a rework of Stevie Wonder’s music, but as Israel hears it. He says this is always the way he heard Wonder’s music, and he has put it into a form where we can share and enjoy his concept with him. Musically sound and full of innovations, I really enjoyed his approach to making the music in the form of jazz. Israel states that Wonder, in his opinion, was always a Jazz composer even if his music was more mainstream R&B. Leading his band from the drummer’s position is amazing, and his playing is consistent and fabulous.
Always making his presence heard and felt, Israel’s abilities are reminiscent of the late great Art Blakey. “Visions” with spoken word is bad to the bone with perfect balance, and the spoken word adds an interesting touch. The musicians backing Israel up do a tremendous job in their playing as well, exploring the works of one of the greatest American artists to ever preform. The amount of love and respect for Wonder’s music comes pouring out song after song on the CD. I did not mention other songs because I liked them all so much that I could write a review of each one and I’m sure you’d rather hear the music than to read my writing. I almost wanted to do just that, but I instead recommend you get this CD and listen for yourself. Trust me, it’s a journey of discovery that you won’t soon forget.
The 10 track CD is interesting in another way, that being the fact that Israel doesn’t just choose the most recognizable of Stevie Wonder’s songs, but reaches deep and conceptualizes some of those that are lesser known. “You Are The Sunshine Of my Life” is an exception of course, and I can clearly hear what Israel means when he says Wonder’s music has always been composed for jazz. This is one classy CD with wonderful renditions that will make you smile inside and out. This CD is a big winner for fans of jazz and R&B, and I highly recommend it.