Nick Colionne | Feel The Heat

Nick Colionne - Feel The Heat

Nick Colionne | Feel The Heat
by Brent Faulkner

Contemporary jazz guitarist and vocalist Nick Colionne delivers enjoyable performances on his seventh studio effort, Feel the Heat. A veteran at this point, Colionne truly has little to prove, but that mindset does nothing to cloud his strong efforts here. From the first track to the closing track, one can easily hear Colionne’s sheer talents as a smooth jazz guitarist with superb soloing abilities. Vocally, Colionne is blessed with a superb baritone vocal range that evolves throughout Feel the Heat, finally reaching its full culmination by the splendid ninth cut (“Can’t Let Go). Colionne certainly refrains attempts at ‘reinventing the wheel’ on this 2011 followup to 2008’s No Limits, but he does give smooth jazz fans an effort that transcends the sometimes bland sub-genre.

“Some Funky” proves to be the perfect opener, given it’s exceptional production work. The funky electric piano part works extraordinarily well with Colionne’s guitar playing being the ‘icing on top.’ Not revolutionary, “Some Funky” shows an incredibly talented musician honing his skills. “The Windy Dance” is nearly as satisfactory exhibiting a subtler, though ‘in-the-pocket’ groove. The harmonic progression underlying “The Windy Dance” is smart, not to mention another cut with a sensible duration (only about three and a half minutes). Again, it does nothing to pave forward-thinking endeavors, but continues to showcase Colionne in top-notch form.

“Let’s Spend Some Time” features a solid groove and for the first time, features Colionne’s vocals. Unfortunately, Colionne sounds as if he is just ‘warming up’ vocally on this cut as the performance is a bit subdued. That said, Colionne’s understated baritone here sets up the listener for the more rousing vocal performances to come (and they do come indeed!). “The Connection” atones for any missteps from “Let’s Spend Some Time,” reuniting Colionne with both funk (think opener “Some Funky”) and his guitar. It does not eclipse “Some Funky,” but it certainly shows that Colionne has some serious guitar ‘chops.’ “There It Is” is a moment of resurgence, exhibiting Colionne’s best playing of the album that one-ups “The Connection” despite its valiant efforts.

“Midnight and You” returns Colionne back to his baritone, which seems more spirited here than on the lukewarm “Let’s Spend Some Time.” Not fully cultivated vocally, the R&B based groove and memorable guitar riffs atone for any misnomers on Colionne’s part. “It’s Gonna Be Alright” contrasts urban balladry in favor of synthesized brass, organ, and electric piano textures that make for one of the album’s very best cuts. The follow-up, “Wessin’” also sees another massive surge in momentum, making a good album even better. “Can’t Let Go” finally finds Colionne’s baritone at its fullest and most vital of the album. The sensual vibe of “Can’t Let Go” is superb and perhaps for the first time, it seems that Colionne has found his stride both vocally and instrumentally which is a truly beautiful thing. Closing cut “Po’ House” may be the album’s biggest surprise with overt vocals, supporting background vocals and a great funky arrangement (rhythmic guitar especially) that truly makes listeners ‘feel the heat’ of which Colionne titled this effort.

Overall, Colionne’s latest release is solid and enjoyable. One could argue that better pacing may have taken this effort to the next level, not to mention even more focus on vocals when they are a featured part of the set. Despite the flaws, Colionne proves he is a remarkable talent. Even when the material fades in the background, the listener always keys in on those soulful guitar licks.

Brent Faulkner
The Urban Music Scene