Here is a jazz experience unlike anything you’ve heard before. This is Carlos Niño with his self-described “Spiritual, Improvisational, Space, Collage” sound at its most evolved. From the opening track, you know this album is unlike Niño’s previous work. It might deviate from the usual norms, but you’ll be fully engaged in no time. Its cosmic charm will sweep you off your feet before you even can utter the word. This beautiful and great project from Niño and his friends has a wide range of tracks, soundscapes, jazz and other styles across their latest gift, (I’m just) Chillin’, on Fire.
Fluid by nature, this album is for those who enjoy the fluidity of multiple genres seamlessly intertwined. The variety is enhanced by using the most vibrant and abundant gathering of Friends Nino has included on record to date. Featured artists across 80+ minutes of music include Sibusile Xaba, Jamael Dean, and Nate Mercereau (who appears on most of the album’s tracks), as well as keyboardist and Alice Coltrane protégé Surya Botofasina, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, Mia Doi Todd, Photay, Deantoni Parks, plus Laraaji, Adam Rudolph, Josh Johnson, Jamire Williams, and more, including André 3000, who makes an appearance on flutes.
It is a thoroughly chilled and enchanting journey; listen as Nino and crew effortlessly flow from ambient and new-age sounds to mind-bending psychedelic haziness while exuding an infectious groove that radiates positive jazz vibes.
Music writer Marcus J. Moore captures the essence and significance of the music in the liner notes for the album, in which he says: “By creating music with tender messages and leisurely pacing, Niño nudges listeners to slow down and appreciate life’s natural wonders, to savor the journey and not rush so quickly to the destination. In turn, his art conjures pastoral images — endless fields, boundless oceans, ripples crashing along the shoreline. It urges you to simply look up: notice the wind rustling through the trees, listen to the birds sing a glorious song. This is real life, the stuff you can’t quite capture with a smartphone camera.”
(I’m just) Chillin’, on Fire, will easily find a place in my top 10 ambient jazz albums of 2023.