Michael Manson – The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line
(A440 Music Group – 2002)
by Raymond Redmond
Upstart A440 Music has another hit on their hands with bassist Michael Manson’s “Bottom Line”. “Outer Drive” kicks it right into the groove with guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. and smooth-jazz keyboardist Brian Culbertson laying the groove, Ron Haynes trumpet accenting and swinging in the background. “Keys to my Heart” and “Angel’s Serenade” are both slower tracks featuring Kirk Whalum’s tenor sax and Culbertson’s subtle keys. Dwight Sills and Gerey Johnson pulling guitar duty, respectively. “Seven Whole Days” is a Babyface Edmonds tune that features the wailing sax of Steve Cole and has guitar veteran Johnson and Keith Henderson performing a slick guitar duet.
“Everlasting Love” is probably the weakest track (there has to be one), primarily because it seems like it took them half of the song to really get into it. By the end the song has built to a jamming frenzy buoyed by the insistent vocals of Nannette Frank and Steve Grisette. Then the 2:04 reprise of “everlasting Love” turns it up a notch, seething with funk and sounding like Stanley Clarke and Chaka Khan on steroids. “Just One Touch” slides back into the smooth groove, primarily a jaunt with Culbertson and Manson. The percussive assistance of Lenny Castro here and throughout the CD is subtle and timely.
“The Bottom Line” is a frenzied affair with Manson popping his bass, Oscar Seaton on drums keeping up the pace and Steve Cole and Larry Bowen filling in the horn section as Manson rushed madly, melodically forward to the end. “Close Your Eyes” is probably the sleeper track on the CD. Featuring TeJai on vocals and introducing Paul Mertens on sax and Michael Halperin on trombone to join Haynes on flugelhorn for an even fuller horn section. Mike Logan accompanies Manson on keyboards as TeJai croons on this sure crossover candidate. “Goin’ Home” brings in even more talent with dual keyboardists Elgin Manson and Orenthial Harper and Howard Levy on harmonica joining Dwight Sills guitar as Manson again takes the lead in this Stevie-Wonder-ish piece. Manson does some good finger work here. Mike takes it out with a reprise of “The Bottom Line”, leaving you satisfied yet wanting more.
With artists like Manson and Bromberg in the fold, A440 Music Group is quickly becoming a player to be noticed in the music game.