Smooth meets contemporary meets chill meets house. That's the blend of music you'll hear served up by Bona Fide at the Soul Lounge.
In a time when we're being inundated with cover CD after cover CD, this release is 11 original tunes from bass player and band leader Tim (Slim Man) Camponeschi, who wrote most of the songs, and sax player Kevin Levi, wrote “Funk Box,” and Joe Ercole, who wrote “B.More Knights.” The band is rounded out by keyboard player George Hazelrigg, drummer John E. Coale, and Howard Zizzi on percussion.
The opening track, “Bona Fide Club,” sets the pace. It grabs you and lets you know it's time to dance. While the song is led by the keyboards and sax, Slim Man provides the deep danceable groove with his bass.
Being a former Baltimore resident myself, I've always liked how a lot of their song titles are references to that city and its surrounding suburbs. “Funk Box” is such a song, named after a club in the Federal Hill section of Baltimore. (Though at the time I lived there, it was called the 8x10.) This is an alto sax led, mid tempo tune, but for me, the bass stands out on it. "Bromo Tower" is another Baltimore reference, named for a large clock tower in downtown Baltimore.
The title track, “Soul Lounge,” is a seemingly simplistic tune with some repetitive rifts by the sax, piano, bass, drum programming, and guitar; however, when the parts come together as a whole song, the result is a trademark Bona Fide tune.
One of my favorite songs on this album is “Midnight Train,” which features guest guitarists Marc Antoine on the acoustic nylon string guitar and Chuck Loeb on the electric guitar. It begins with a slow, mellow, acoustic guitar intro, with Marc's easily recognizable sound and style. Chuck joins in as the song kicks in with his unmistakable sound. The beauty of this song is the playing between the two very different guitar styles, all highlighted by the sound of Slim Man's bass.
“Deep Chill” is the longest song on this CD. It may be a little too long. Each musician comes front and center to play and showcase their respective instruments, but at 13 minutes this song could have accomplished the same thing in less time. The beat starts to sound a little redundant to me.
“23rd of May” is another melodic beauty of a song featuring Marc Antoine again on the nylon string guitar. He plays against the softly accentuated Slim Man bass riffs and the delicate piano work of George Hazelrigg.
In his own self deprecating words, Slim Man describes himself as “the weak link. Stomping my foot, counting off, and holding on.” While he does indeed do those things, he is hardly a weak link in the chain that is Bona Fide. Slim Man's catchy bass grooves are one of the things that hold this band together and give them their unique sound, and make this CD worth buying. So take a trip inside the Soul Lounge. You may just want to stay awhile.
- Mary Bently