CITRUS SUN; Anaconga (Dome)

Savvy soulsters and jazzers know all about CITRUS SUN (below) – the UK music collective that first came together way in 2000 when Incognito’s Bluey Maunick worked on an album with one of his guitar heroes, Jim Mullen. The result was the Citrus Sun long player, ‘Another Time Another Place’. Bluey enjoyed  the freedom the project gave him so much that  he vowed to keep  the connection alive, remarking at the time that  Citrus Sun was “the indulgent and for fun only speedboat, riding alongside my flagship, Incognito”

Now, 20 odd years down the line,  those aforementioned savvy soulsters and jazzers will be delighted to learn that Citrus Sun have just released this gorgeous new 10 tracker, their fifth LP and their fourth for Dome.

The album was flagged up by the release of a single – the band’s cover version of Bobby Caldwell’s 1978 rare groove classic, ‘Down For The Third Time’. With sweet vocals from Natalie Duncan and some stunning work from trumpeter Dominic Glover and guitarist Charlie Allen, the cover was/is smooth, classy, sophisticated soul jazz at its grown up best. And I bet you won’t be too surprised to learn that ‘Anaconga’ delivers plenty more of the same!

You want more covers? The album boasts a terrific trio of revivals. First up there’s a re-working of Maynard Ferguson’s ‘Mister Mellow’ (intricate guitar work here and backing vocals from Tony Momrelle and Deborah Bond). Then  there’s a take on Ronnie Foster’s ‘Mystic Brew’  which Bluey decided to record “to say thank you for his (Foster’s) massive contribution to the music we love and are inspired by”. The final cover is a little more recent – Erykah Badu’s ‘Honey’. Once again the vocals  are down to  Natalie Duncan but listen up to  beautiful trumpet and flugelhorn parts  from Kevin Robinson.

Earlier we mentioned not being surprised by this album, so there’s no surprise to learn that the original tunes totally match the quality of those four classics. Immediate grabber amongst the new ones is ‘Santiago’ which features the young Indonesian harmonica player Rega Dauna, who starred on the band’s 2020 single ‘Hard Boiled’. A Stevie Wonder for the 21st century? Maybe!

Then there’s ‘In Search of the Blue Note’ (starring  Dominic Glover on flugelhorn and Graham Harvey on keyboards). The inspiration’s in the title … yep,  New York City’s jazz history and nightlife. The vibe is spot on! More laid back is ‘Twilight Reimagined’ – again the clue’s in the title. It is though, another offering of what we called up top “smooth, classy, sophisticated soul jazz at its grown up best”. ‘Anaconga’ is stuffed with it!

(BB) 4/5