Review By Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
Fred Vigdor (or Freddy V) pushed his stake in the ground a long time ago when he stepped in with his saxophone to help the legendary pop-soul band Average White Band climb the charts. AWB remains one of my favorites to this day. For a decade Freddy's trademark sax was a steady groove on AWB tracks. His accomplishments with that band alone still resonate today.
Through his many years of side work and AWB, Freddy V has come full circle and now has his own solo album, Easier Than It Looks. Don't let the title throw you off; what Freddy gets done on these 12 tracks is not a walk in the park by any means. He plays his music proudly and wears his influences on his sleeve - Sanborn, Scott, Coltrane etc. all make an appearance in Freddy's smooth, funky and soulful output. Even though his base sound remains in funk and soul, there are many moments of classic and smooth jazz that come through, which makes for a real nice variety, especially on the all instrumental tunes like "Any Other Way" where everyone in the band gets their turn to step into the spotlight for a while. This track is a perfect example of genre to sub genre crossover and Freddy and his band do it with relative ease, or they make it sound Easier Than It Looks.
Freddy V carries some weight with his resume and he has fellow AWB members, including a new song and vocal "You Can't Have It All" featuring founding member and vocalist of AWB Alan Gorrie. There is also a re-working of the AWB classic "Let's Go Round Again," highlighting the voice of Klyde Jones (co-lead vocalist with AWB) on this fresh and full of life recording. Other prominent players include Mo Pleasure (keyboards, bass, Earth Wind & Fire, Ray Charles, Janet Jackson), Rocky Bryant (drums, with AWB, formerly with Dave Sanborn, Branford Marsalis, Maxwell), Roger Smith (organ, Tower of Power), Onnie McIntyre (guitar, original member of AWB) and Ricky Peterson (Dave Sanborn, Prince, John Mayer).
I felt it was paramount to make mention of all of these outstanding musicians and their impressive list of associations. This is an indication of why the recording is so good and why Freddy handpicked the cream of the crop to help launch his first solo effort into the stratosphere, and it worked. There is nothing not to like here; it stands as evidence to the consistently good production and quality of a superb solo effort. If you appreciate the great saxophone players in jazz, it's quite simple, you will love what Freddy V serves up on his first solo album. Its tasteful, exciting, sexy, well, you name it, this CD gets a lock on your heart and soul right from the outset and hangs on tight for the entire ride.