Althea Rene,
Chocolate Rush
(Chocolate Carmel, 2002)

Chocolate Rush by Althea Rene is very easy to listen to. The music is soothing and warm; it just drifts around you and very rarely does much more than that. It is good, but the feel of the music tends to repeat from piece to piece.

Talented musicians give nice clean performances on this CD. Rene plays the flute, while the instruments used to back her include keyboards, drums, percussion, guitar, bass, piano and some background vocals.

The CD starts off with "Secret Smile," a smooth piece of jazz with the flute at the heart of the music. "You're the Best" is a slightly more up-tempo piece, the vocals taking the emotions from the music and giving them more focus. Once again the lyrics provide some theme in "Ain't Nobody," but the music doesn't quite match the content -- it is too laid back.

You are hit with a powerful sense of longing right from the first note of "Desiring You" and it doesn't let you go. The keyboard takes the lead for part of "As If You Read My Mind," although the lead switches around after the vocalists join in. "Live Right Now" slides back to the relaxed feel of sunny afternoon jazz. You get more of that laidback, easy-to-listen-to jazz with "In Light of You." The horns kick in during "Cook & Vandervender," but even then the piece stays pretty much in tune with the others.

There is a slight twist in the sound of "After 5," with the flute sounding less than clear at times. "Hot Ice" starts on go, giving you a chance to get up and dance. You are given a nice flight into the sunset with "Icarus." The spoken poetry in "That's Phat" gives the piece its intensity and drive.

Chocolate Rush for the most part consists of safe jazz that is easy listening. There are a few songs that are more than that, with the extra little bit to make them special.

- Rambles
written by Paul de Bruijn
published 25 October 2003