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JAZZ TIMES: 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

JAZZREVIEW.COM: 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 jazz offering.

'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 T. Nunn

SMOOTHJAZZ.COM: 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

SMOOTH 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 all.

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. February 2003


JAZZ TIMES: 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

MUSIC CONNECTION: 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 effort.

JAZZIZ: 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 1999

BASSICS: 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.

JAZZREVIEW.COM: 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

BASS FRONTIERS: 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

    phone: 626.329.2557   email: solarwindjazz@gmail.com