Album: Charlie Stacey – The Light Beyond Time

Charlie Stacey (Yussef Dayes Trio) fuses jazz-piano virtuosity with dark synth textures and grooves on his first solo project.

After outstanding performances on Yussef Dayes’ 2019 single Duality and the Yussef Dayes Trio’s 2020 live album Welcome to the Hills, pianist and keys player Charlie Stacey arrives with his first solo project, ‘The Light Beyond Time’. The EP consists of 5 tracks with jazzy feels and warm vibes that are perfect on these long cold winter nights. 

The EP is brimming with spontaneity and authenticity. The songs on the EP were recorded over one-and-a-half days and are laden with great melodies, energetic rhythms, and meticulous arrangements. 

The spontaneous nature of the recording excited Stacey explaining, “the chance to record in the way that Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and many of my heroes recorded was really appealing.” 

Alongside Stacey (piano, Rhodes, synth) is Oscar Ogden (drums), Tom Driessler (bass) and Jay Phelps (trumpet), Vula Malinga (vocals) and Mamour Seck (percussion).

As you listen, you will forget the time and fall into the world of Stacey’s mesmerising keyboard tone. He brings a slight Afro-Cuban twist in the closing track, “Charlie’s Tune”; another, my favourite of all, is “Music is Healing”, which introduces us to vocalist Vula Malinga. The song brings a new feel to the EP; her soaring tones and the acid jazz nature make it a must-listen. 

It’s always fascinating to hear musicians getting outside their comfort zones to enhance spontaneity and creativity. Initially a Herbie Hancock-era Headhunters instrumental tip, it turned into old-school jazz scat in places, ethereal RnB and Kamasi Washington-esque lyrical space ballads in others. 

Another highlight is “Mamour’s Tune”, written by its namesake; this intricate patchwork of rhythms, bright synth textures, grooves and melodies brings the EP to a vibrant close with its electrifying and contagious energy.

All in all, the project outlives the expectations and leaves the listener with no choice but to press repeat. At least, that’s what I did. 

Benny Toms

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