As music critics and journalists begin discussing the best album or albums of 2015, Candice Hoyes’ debut On a Turquoise Cloud should be prominently mentioned in these conversations. The set’s classy artistry captures the graceful ambiance of Swan Lake and the broad emotion of Madame Butterfly mixed with lounge jazz coolness. The music here whisks you away like a fantastic dream sequence, making you close your eyes to heighten audio senses as you delve deeply into these 13 moments. As the album played, I could picture being kicked back sailing on a cloudless day or sipping the finest brandy in front of a crackling fireplace.
Passion burns in Hoyes’ soprano as she evenly raises octaves like heat from a lower-level boiler. Yet, nothing on Cloud is dark or dank; its rhythmic rainbows brightly bend in the stratosphere with vivid instrumentation and shining arrangements.
Produced by Grammy winner Ulysses Owens, Jr., he and Hoyes conduct this concept album like a classic-minded modern symphony; Cloud’s a collection of Duke Ellington rarities reimagined through a wonderful ensemble of musicians. Ted Nash (alto sax, others), Ron Blake (tenor sax, others), Carl Maraghi (bass clarinet and baritone sax), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Adam Birnbaum (piano), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), and Owen, Jr. (drums) compliment Hoyes’ breathtaking, operatic belting.
The album opens with its moody title track before taking you to “Heaven”one track later. My favorite track? It’s a toss-up between the sultry flow of “Brown Penny”and the heart of “Blues I Love to Sing.”
Hoyes’ Cloud also welcomes a pair of acclaimed legends to breathe air into a couple tracks; trombonist Wycliffe Gordon features on “Almighty God,” while sax icon Joe Temperley lends to “Single Petal Of A Rose.”
If you’re a lover of soulful or classical jazz, or just in the mood for an album you can escape to, Candice Hoyes’ On a Turquoise Cloud is very much worth taking a chance on. And again, it’s one of the best albums of 2015.
—Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker is an urban and pop culture enthusiast. Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, the biographer, author, entertainment and celebrity journalist, and columnist is currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer of weekly classic hip-hop reviews for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He is also working on a book project with Liquid Arts & Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog MrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.