Iwan VanHetten, Parabbean Tales Review
by Ferell Aubre
Iwan VanHetten is a trumpet and keyboard player, composer, arranger, and producer that has spent over twenty-five years touring, performing, and recording as a solo artist and with some of the greatest names in the industry. His list of credits includes Sister Sledge, Candy Dulfer, Paco Sery, The Pointer Sisters, Anthony Hamilton, Jools Holland, Jimmy Haslip, Will Kennedy, and Russell Ferrante. In addition, VanHetten has spent fifteen years as musical director/keyboards with Sister Sledge and twenty years as musical director/keyboards/trumpet/songwriter/producer with the Brooklyn Funk Essentials. VanHetten has toured worldwide with both groups, performing at countless prestigious festivals and clubs. With Rob Harris and Paul Turner (Jamiroquai), VanHetten completes the new trio ‘TRIONIQ .’He is also an active solo artist, writing, recording, and producing his own solo albums. VanHetten’s production credits include Joni Sledge’s album Tru. Including Candy Dulfer and Sister Sledge. Parabbean Tales is VanHetten’s latest solo album on Blue Canoe Records and features a stellar cast of Grammy Award-winning musicians, including Yellowjackets members Will Kennedy, Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip, and Bob Mintzer, as well as Lenny Castro, Melvin Davis, and Andy Narell. The full line-up is as follows: Will Kennedy – drums; Russell Ferrante – keyboards and piano; Jimmy Haslip – bass; Melvin Davis – bass; Bob Mintzer – saxophone; Lenny Castro – percussion; and Andy Narell – steel pans. Parabbean Tales features ten songs filled with rhythms and melodies of Caribbean music and contemporary jazz with a strong groove.
The title track opens the album, instantly sounding of VanHetten’s cool relaxed muted trumpet set to a contemporary jazz groove. The United Kingdom-based trumpeter has a beautiful blend of tension and release over the static harmony as he colors his way through his solo. The band has a deep pocket, and each player knows that space is just as crucial as the well-chosen notes. VanHetten is a master of saying more with less.
“Cachete” is an up-beat Caribbean influence jazz-funk groove. The riff-based melody is supported by a big warm bass tone, full keyboard chords, and a toe-tapping drum groove. VanHetten’s trumpet sound is round and expressive as he digs in and spins a developing solo of style and rhythmic interest. Ferrante’s time and chords support VanHetten with every color and phrase; this band listens.
Parabbean Tales is an exciting album filled with effortless contemporary jazz grooves. VanHetten’s playing is elegant and overflowing with magnificent positivity. Parabbean Tales showcases the leader’s tasteful writing and provides a smooth, pleasant listening experience that will soothe the mind and lift the spirit.