Julie Dexter & Khari Simmons: Moon Bossa

[4 April 2007]

By Quentin B. Huff

I’ll bet you didn’t know the cure for boredom could be sitting right under our collective noses, right there in the rhythms of bossa-nova? No matter how much we love music, most of us experience a rut and get the urge to hear a new style or direction.  Luckily for us, Julie Dexter and Khari Simmons are pioneering the treatment for your ailing ears, mixing a potent cocktail of high quality grooves. It’s called Moon Bossa, and it contains 14 shots of subtle yet exquisite bass work, percussion, horns, and Rhodes, as well as some of the finest vocal work this side of Sade and Amel Larrieux. 

None of this should be a surprise, considering the previous offerings from Dexter and Simmons. For her part, UK native and Atlanta, Georgia resident Julie Dexter is an experienced, classically trained singer, songwriter, and musician with a voice that soars like the bird in the title of “The Dove” and sways like the water in “Salt Sea”. Atlanta, Georgia’s Khari Simmons, Dexter’s partner in rhythm and production, has toured as India.Arie’s bass player and, in addition, he formed a soul-bossa band named Jiva in the mid-‘90s.  Dexter and Simmons love bossa, and music in general, and their enthusiasm abounds, from the light and airy title track, to the fierce independence of “What Do I Do”, as well as the folksy duet in “Wave” with Alex Lattimore. 

Thankfully, Moon Bossa won’t fit neatly into “jazz” or “R&B” (and I’m really hoping we don’t try to describe it as something like “neo-soul-bossa”—promise me this won’t happen!). It possesses those categorical elements, but you’ll also detect a Caribbean-style vibe, plus the tropical touches you might expect to hear during a cruise on The Love Boat (remember that show?). There’s also a tune with a pretty cool skat and a prominent melodic whistle (“Sea & Sky”) and a tune (“Venusian”) that kind of sounds like the theme of The Price is Right (weird, I know, but I kind of dig it—every time I hear it, I think, “Come on down!”). Moon Bossa also includes three remixes that lean heavily toward dance and house (the Incognito remix of “Fooled by a Smile”, the Aquariana remix of “Venusian”, and the Jiva remix of “The Dove”). You might enjoy these as alternates of the regular versions or as a means of transitioning your friends into the album’s mellow ambience. As you enjoy the album, count on the judicious use of horns for texture—although, I might have liked “Salt Sea” slightly better if it had maintained its initial simplicity—and say goodbye to monotony.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/julie-dexter-khari-simmons-moon-bossa/