Reviews

Blaze

The New Jersey duo known as Blaze remains the pinnacle of what it likes to call "soulful house music." Infused with a spiritual quality and grounded in faith without proselytizing, Blaze's tunes are light-years away from the typical hedonistic clichés driving any given dance floor on a Saturday night.

In the past, Kevin Hedges and Josh Milan have usually preferred to keep their personalities out of the spotlight, cultivating an air of mystery in the process. But for the DJ mix collection, Found Love, their smiling faces appear, albeit in cartoon form, right on the cover. This newfound comfort is appropriate, since they are currently readying their next original full-length, a jazz project long rumored to be their last but which may just be a whole new beginning.

Blaze's songwriting skills and Milan's deep, mellifluous vocals and keyboards helped give Louie Vega's Elements of Life album its mature identity, and the latter's "Brand New Day" is a highlight here, as are the other original Blaze tracks ("How Deep is Your Love" and "Found Love"). Other songs from like-minded artists such as Joi Cardwell, Arnold Jarvis, and Hollis P. Monroe are used, with Hedges blending the tracks on the turntables and Milan freestyling on the keys over his mix. This is a wonderful primer to the aesthetic of Blaze.

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Tamara Palmer