Seawind?

Ever hear of them? Unless you are a very serious music fan, I suppose not.

Well let me tell you a little about them.

Seawind was a band formed in Hawaii in the mid-seventies that prominently featured a horn section of University of Indiana alums. The horn sections leader, Jerry Hey, would go on to be THE pop horn arranger of the eighties and nineties (often with the Seawind horns in tow for many of those sessions). Michael Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire, and literally hundreds of others artists have used Jerry’s arranging skills to add some restrained melodic punch to their recordings. Give a listen to the horn arrangement of Jackson’s “Working Day and Night” – brilliant. That’s what Hey did over and over again.

Seawind was more than just a springboard for Jerry Hey and the Seawind horns however. Seawind was also a highly musical and accomplished band that released four records during their career. Some of drummer Bob Wilson’s songs, (“Devil is a Liar” “Follow Your Road” and “Free”) are jazz/rock compositions that hold up and could easily be in the rotation on any of today’s few remaining jazz stations.

Seawind was around back in what I like to think of as the most exciting time in music history (the late 70’s and early 80’s). That was a time when people were creating the consumer electronics business buying cool new Japanese stereo gear and comically large speakers to go with them.

Record companies were promoting the most eclectic mix of artists ever attempting to prognosticate the seemingly endless and fickle listening demands of the then reefer puffing populous.  Audio was king!

Teens and young adults were retrofitting their cars with SuperTuners and coaxials. Cassettes made music more portable. Everyone seemed to have a pair of stereo headphones. Focused listening was the norm for music. Music and performance actually mattered. The listener (sometimes jacked up on pot) could now hear it all – every audio nuance – at home, in their car, or through their walkman.

Then MTV came and ruined it all paving the way for Justin Bieber. I digress.

Seawind’s music clearly mattered like many of the bands of that time. Give a listen to Seawind’s Light the Light(their best IMHO) and you will hear some ferocious lockstep grooves between drummer Wilson and bassist Ken Wild full of poly-rhythmic interplay. This pulsating rhythm formed the perfect backdrop for pint-sized singer Pauline Wilson to clearly and powerfully hit unreachable-for-most high notes in between the always interesting Jerry Hey/Larry Williams horn arrangements.

This was because Seawind was a band of musicians. All music majors and Berklee grads. Maybe this partly explains their limited success – their primary appeal might have been to other musicians.

After many years of going their separate ways, (keyboardist/horn player Williams – like Hey – has had a remarkable musical career) Seawind has produced a new CD, Reunion.

Reunion is mix of some re recordings along with a few new compositions. Particularly poppy is the new  “Kept by Your Power.” Power’s sing-a-long “Oh-we-oh” chorus successfully updates their sound while capturing all that defined Seawind. I dare you not to join in singing the second time you play it!

The digital recording on Reunion is pristine and songs like “He Loves You” (with a guest vocal by Al Jarreau) sound much richer than their original.

The playing is consistently terrific with Williams’ keyboards and Bud Nuanez’s guitarist shining particularly bright. The updated arrangements are fresh, and overall Reunion is terrific reminder of what a great band Seawind was, and what a great time that was back when people really listened to the music. Good news is you can still experience that magical time again today with Reunion. A must have for any jazz/pop music fan.

Available through their website Seawindjazz.com.