While many of the tracks on Solar Wind's sophomore
CD, Blue Horizon (Solar One), bear warm, sunny titles
and are as sparkling and easy to enjoy as a bright
summer day on the beach, this is not a lightweight
album. Keyboardist David Benoit and saxophonist Eric
Marienthal make guest appearances on several tracks,
including the catchy "Shoreline Drive,"
the plaintive, pretty "Sedona Sunrise,"
the gently grooving, lightly Latin-flavored "Catalina
Breeze" and the breezy "Place in the Sun"
- and not surprisingly, these tunes would sound right
at home on smooth-jazz radio - but Blue Horizon ranges
beyond contemporary jazz. On "Mix it Up,"
Marc Hugenberger's fusionesque keyboards ride Sean
Mason's potent funk groove, which morphs into an extended
and agile solo. "Eruption" features percolating
funky bass accented by hornlike keyboard punches,
and "Danse de la Glace" finds Mason layering
spacey synths over a chiming keyboard bed and building
the whole thing into a soaring anthem. Lucy
Tauss, May 2003
In this present day world of diminishing returns in
finding good quality music to listen to, it is quite
refreshing to know that jazz continues to thrive and
exist in some form or the other. In my mind, the latest
CD from the group Solar Wind is one of those rare
events where excitement is an intensely popular musical
'Blue Horizon' is Solar Wind's latest release, and
it serves up a rare combination of fusion, soft effects
and deep bass vibes. In addition, the music generates
a high degree of anticipation throughout the CD, due
in part to the multi-faceted dynamics associated with
the release. Ramroded by bassist Sean Mason, this
band of merry men carries listeners on a fusion activated
sound energy ride to jazz utopia. With assistance
from Eric Marienthal and David Benoit, this CD plays
large and is definitely ear candy at its sweetest.
In fact, if you listen carefully, you will hear the
influences of Chick Corea's Elektric Band and Weather
Report all rolled into one. Other factors attached
to 'Blue Horizon' also add an even greater degree
of appeal. This effort is three parts fusion, one
part smooth jazz and an added touch of funk and lightly
colored ambiance for flavor. Mix well with mild-mannered
acoustics for effect, and you then have Solar Wind
in a neatly wrapped sound package of delight. Trying
to define or categorize this group's music is no easy
task. The best you can hope for is a descriptive word
to say "I LIKE THESE GUYS."
Solar Wind hails from Los Angeles, California, and
their main musical focus is etched in fusion and contemporary
jazz. They blend these active ingredients with other
musical influences, which may include New Age and
National Adult Contemporary stylings. When I first
became acquainted with these guys, I thought I would
be listening to another group of smooth jazz clones.
After 11 tracks of beautifully crafted jazz of a uniquely
different flavor, I was hooked on what Solar Wind
had to say. Having one previous release under their
belt, this second effort is sure to be one of the
jazz highlights of 2003. Mason's exploits on bass
are reminiscent of the heydays of Jaco Pastorius and
Stanley Clarke, especially on his pinpoint riffs and
improvised rhythms. If this is only the second outing
from Solar Wind and company, we can expect the jazz
world to be refreshed for a long time to come. Upon
listening to these guys, you too will hear seasoned
veterans at work and play. Reviewed by: Sheldon
Well I naturally love the opening track titled "Shoreline
Drive" not only for it's name, but because it
musically and melodically describes the ride I like
to take several days a week along the scenic oceanview
boulevard that curves around the coastline of Pacific
Grove and Pebble Beach here on the Monterey Peninsula.
I'm certain that Solar Wind's Sean Mason won't mind
my usage of his upbeat, sax-driven tune. By the way,
not just any saxophonist is featured on this song
and nearly half a dozen of the tunes on "Blue
Horizon". The unmistakable tones belong to one
of our favorite players, Eric Marienthal. Another
guest of note is keyboardist David Benoit who plays
beautifully on the cinematic, "Sedona Sunrise".
This new project is the second release for the L.A.
based band led by producer/bassist Sean Mason. Sean's
bass work is exceptionally clean and crisp on the
tracks that will appeal to radio. And he gives us
a taste of something meatier on deeper album tracks
like the very funky, "Mix It Up" and the
Victor Wooten-ish "Saturn Way". Sean offers
this comment on his playing, "Musically, I always
play it straight from the heart, and then put it out
to see how our feelings transfer to those who listen."
Blue Horizon is an album for music enthusiasts. People
who appreciate excellent musicianship, interesting
melodies, fusion cuisine, and red wines will appreciate
Solar Wind. You don't really have to drink red wine
to get the spirit of "Blue Horizon", the
point is, it's a full-bodied effort with great character.
(We tend to compare everything to wine in Northern
California.) In a recent conversation with Sean, he
said that he knows people will really like the music
if they get a chance to hear it. We totally agree.
So listen for that chance on Smoothjazz.com Radio
where you will hear two tracks from "Blue Horizon"
("Shoreline Drive and Catalina Breeze").
Sandy Shore, February 2003
NOTES & NEWS: On rare occasions a collection
of music arrives in the mail that beckons you to give
a listen. You position yourself at the player, pop
it in and from the beginning you just know it’s
a winner. Anticipating the remaining tracks, you wonder-
are they equally as good? The answers danced forward,
under the laser, in the remaining tracks of Solar
Wind’s "Blue Horizon" (Solar One Records).
Transcending the moniker ‘Smooth Jazz’,
this tapestry of original music compositions is colorful,
melodic, syncopated groove. Track one is ‘Shoreline
Drive’- an energy-driven, suave, yet funky tune
that features bandleader Sean Mason on bass, keys
and drum programming. Joining the call to this skillful
piece are the essential master of the keys, David
Benoit on electric piano, "Heat-meister"
Eric Marienthal on sax and Eric Robson on acoustic
guitar. From the start, the combination of these talents
is impressive and the energy shared between them makes
it evident a very good time in session was had by
Track two ‘Sedona Sunrise’ is currently
making its rounds on Smooth Jazz rotation (along with
‘Shoreline Drive’) and is breathtaking.
Solos by Mason, Benoit and Marienthal awaken the senses
and cause the heart to take flight. Share this one
with someone special- it is that profound.
"Catalina Breeze" reminds me of the island,
with flavors of tropical breezes, gentle movement
and saucy Bossa Nova… you’ll feel like
dancing; then be forewarned, "Mix It Up"
is where the core band shows their chops. Mason is
electric and rhythmically cool: plucking, picking,
and strumming. You can hear and feel the influences
of DiMeola, Clarke and Patitucci – listen closer,
‘though, for a little George & Louis Johnson’s
‘Thunder Thumbs ‘n Lightening Licks’.
Paul Kaiser on drums and Marc Hugenberger on keys
add depth and dimension to the mix, making the collection
appealing to fans of fusion, funk and the eclectic.
Whether you want it to or not, this disc will reach
out and grab you! So, hold on tight and enjoy the
ride. There’s a new wind on the horizon- with
the energy of the Santa Ana wind…‘Solar
Wind’ featuring Sean Mason. Add "Blue Horizon"
to your collection. We give it a Rating of: A+. Smooth
Notes & News, March 2003
BASS INSIDE MAGAZINE:
Though it may loosely fall under the banner of Smooth
Jazz and Funk, and even elements of what was once
called New Age, don't for a second think this to be
a lightweight project. It has a strong pulse, and
no small amount of passion, too. Sean tells us he
has long been a fan of these genres of music and in
fact hopes to move further into some serious fusion
in the next release. Blue Horizon traverses a lot
of ground, moving well from style to style. A pleasing
record for bassists and lovers of seriously nice music.
Great sounds, smooth technique, leading the melodic
lines with his bass in the style of Patrick O'Hearn.
Solar Wind's new release won't suffer the fate of
many solo albums, played once or twice and then shelved.
GRAND TOUR ALIGNMENT
Boasting almost equal parts power fusion, ambient
effects and gentle acoustics, the music of Solar Wind
is hard to define. What holds the consistently engaging
Grand Tour Alignment together is an adventurous spirit,
attention to detail and a futuristic, almost sci-fi
thread running throughout the album. The duo of bassist
Sean Mason and Eric Robson have many tools in their
arsenal to achieve this forward-looking feel. A pair
of highlights here also accentuate the extremes of
this solid effort: where "No Look Pass"
is a shredding, fusion knuckleball (and features one
of the kings of rock-fusion, guitarist Frank Gambale),
"Gliding Through Passageways" is almost
hypnotically gentle, with resonant bass and guitar
effects. One shoots you into space, and the other
leaves you floating there. April 2000
Led by bassist/producer/composer Sean Mason, this
jazz fusion/new age collection definitely meets the
criteria of finding radio acceptance at the current
NAC format. The production is clean and bright, the
compositions explore new territories without leaving
behind hooky melody lines, and the musicianship leaves
very little to be desired. This group should find
some success at radio. Quite an impressive recording
In a time when so many instrumental artists forsake
their inner muses in the hopes of creating airplay
ready discs only, Solar Wind's Grand Tour Alignment
is a free for all breath of fresh air. While they
have a keen sense of how to craft a catchy melody,
the duo of bassist Sean Mason and guitarist Eric Robson
expand beyond the smooth jazz boundaries and find
a happy home between urban pop and the untamable electric
improv style of Chick Corea's old Elektric Band. October
Comprised of bassist Sean Mason and guitarist Eric
Robson, Solar Wind is an L.A.-based contemporary jazz
project, and GTA is their debut CD. This is great
sounding material, as evidenced by guest appearances
by players like guitarist Frank Gambale, saxist Eric
Marienthal, and drummer Gary Novak. Mason is responsible
for all the compositions save one, "Summer Day,"
penned by Robson. Check out "No Look Pass"
for some terrific Gambale fretboard work and some
Stanley-ish playing from our boy Mason. "Gliding
Through Passageways" fits just about any mood,
while "Light Speed" closes things out with
an uplifting, optimistic vibe.
Prepare to blast off with Sean Mason and the band
as they take you on a funkified trip of wicked bass
playing, tightly arranged songs, and some great chops
from guitarist Frank Gambale and sax player Eric Marienthal.
From the cosmic introduction of "Grand Tour Alignment",
one gets the impression that they are indeed in for
a musical cosmic adventure. If funkified electric
sounds are your cup of tea, this recording comes highly
recommended. After listening to it a few times, the
enjoyment increases, and you end up wanting to hum
your way along with the tunes. Solid bass, excellent
playing from both Eric's and the rest of the group
all add up to a ride you will never forget. Reviewed
by: Randy McElligott
Solar Wind is the brainchild of Sean Mason and Eric
Robson. "Grand Tour Alignment" features
some heavy hitter special guests (Frank Gambale, Eric
Marienthal, Gary Novak, Marc Hugenberger.) Sean is
handling the bass playing which is full of poppin',
groovin', and subtle jazz lines. "Pacific Strut"
is a bass feature track where Sean (assisted by the
monsters above) takes on the role of laying it down,
and having his bass sing over the top with some melodic
ideas that are very tasty. "No look pass"
has a fusion vibe that plays nicely against a cool
half time feel, and shows off Sean's groove prowess,
as well as some incredible solo exchanges between
Sean and Frank. "Grand Tour Alignment" is
a cool CD with an interesting musical vision. Jay
Piccirllo, September 2000
Solar Wind is Sean Mason (bass) and Eric Robson (acoustic
and electrical guitars). They continue their collaborative
efforts with an outstanding CD entitled "Grand
Tour Alignment." A stunning and remarkable gathering
of talent from the jazz world is assembled to assist
the duo. Eric Marinenthal (alto sax), Frank Gambale
(electric guitar), and Gary Novak (drums) all sit
in to help make this a peerless recording session.
All of the men are former members of Chick Corea's
Elektric Band. I saw the Corea band perform live in
1985 at the Concord Jazz Festival. When looking back
at the experience I recall Gambale's guitar playing
as being stellar.
There is no coincidence that some of the top players
in jazz are making guest appearances on this album.
Mason and Robson obviously have the respect and admiration
of their peers. Sean Mason is in total command of
his instrument. His predominant bass lines are featured
throughout this release. The best example of Mason's
popping and thumping bass is the tune "Pacific
Strut", a real hell raiser of funk filled jazz.
Partner Robson is no slouch on guitar, he sparkles
and shines as well. He is steadfast and true to his
purpose and remains a model of consistency. A perfect
compliment to his partner.
This music has all the right qualities in place to
really dazzle you. The artist's maintain an aura of
excitement with tasteful purposefulness that only
jazz music seems able to command from it's creators.
This is Contemporary Jazz-New Age-Fusion wrapped air
tight to bend to the idiosyncrasies and desires of
the individuals that make it all happen. A true omnibus
of aural pleasures that will surely put you in a state
of awe. The planets really must of been aligned the
day this all came together. "MuzikMan"
(Associate Writer), Keith Hannaleck, March 2000