Airborne has released their most consistently outstanding and satisfying work to date entitled Silver Skies to commemorate the landmark achievement of twenty-five years recording noteworthy albums. The group has been dubbed “The musical peacemakers of contemporary jazz,” earning that designation by both the directness of their message of harmony in their lyrical content, and the never-ceasing peaceful ambiance permeating throughout their uplifting melodies. Since the group’s inception over a quarter century ago, Airborne has capitalized on the mystical properties of the number three to provide listeners with music that is inspired, intelligent, and never failing in its mission to elevate the spirit.
The three founding members responsible for the creative impetus and the visionary pathway followed are Thomas Borino (keyboards and vocals), Greg Borino (guitars and vocals), and Thomas Sansone (sax, flute and vocals). All three gentlemen are accomplished musicians, but their main strength lies in their masterful songwriting skills. All the twelve songs found on Silver Skies are new original compositions penned by this ever-talented trio.
“Regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going.” ~ Wes Montgomery
Airborne has always believed in this Wes Montgomery theory, and they reach the goal of keeping the feel constantly going by creating tight grooves, magical elegant melodies, and impeccable production. They are able to draw from various worldly musical genres and rhythms, such as Tropical Island feel, Latin-infused, and smooth as silk European jazz to create their unique feel. Airborne is the epitome of the term “ensemble,” with each member of the group providing stellar contributions to make the whole presentation a strong one.
Silver Skies begins with an up-tempo Thomas Borino composition entitled “Touching the Morning Sun,” and allows each of the ensemble to shine. The melody is the focus, with alternating turns by Thomas B. on keyboards, Greg B. on guitar, and Thomas S. on sax and flute. The rhythm section drives the tune and Greg’s guitar conveys the warmth and illumination of the rising sun. The backing vocals add texture near the song’s climax.
“Cuban Style” was written by Greg, and has an infectious Latin Groove with percussion to match perfectly. The new smooth jazz radio single “City Spirits,” flows with a great vibe with chilled vocals, and guitar and keys. It is followed by “BK’s Jazz Joint,” to keep the momentum building nicely. Another great ensemble work-out that begins with a nice rhythm vamp that segues into a piano lead before taking to the skies with an increased rhythm and blazing jazz-fusion guitar. The second stage of the songs ignition is led by saxophone.
“Just Chillin’” has the vibe that conjures up images of a camel caravan moving purposefully towards its oasis destination. Optimistic horns and determined percussion steer the song powerfully. The Greg Borino penned “It’s All Good” expertly blends genres into a marvelous song that brings together elements of Santana-style Latin rock guitar with propelling percussion. It is punctuated with swelling keyboards that sound like a Moog synthesizer, with the combined result adding up to a great instrumental piece.
Another Greg Borino composition entitled “Time Machine” follows with a moving soulful head bobbin’ groove. The insistent funky vocals are a prelude to jazz/rock territory. A nice piano interlude mid-song is followed by addictive contemporary jazz saxophone before returning to the song’s original groove.
“Alexander’s Dream” is an instrumental displaying marvelous cinematic traits. As the title suggests, it contains a dream-like nature with the piano dominating the melody and background vocals intelligently blended discretely to further the daydream atmosphere.
A light, but still very funky, vibe inhabits “Funky Tuesday.” Twirling horns and constant percussion gallop along in a song that has a definite “get yourself to the dance floor” effect, complete with a funky slap bass line showing the way. It is a showcase for the variety of music that comfortably falls beneath the Airborne umbrella, sounding unlike anything else on Silver Skies.
“Salsa Jazz” is a further aptly titled composition. Elements of the sound representative of early Rock/Horn band Chicago meeting Osibisa or other Latin/Rock groups is illustrated. The percussion on this track stands out in particular, along with the various horns employed.
The enchanting “Sunshower” was pre-released to Contemporary Jazz radio stations as the first single from Silver Skies. To my ears it ranks highly amongst the finest songs ever recorded by Airborne, or any other Contemporary Jazz group for that matter. The melody is truly catching with the entire group at the top of their game adding multi-layers of ear confection. The vocal has a siren quality that calls to mind the enthralling sea nymphs in Greek Mythology who would sing beguilingly to lure in passing-by sailors to their doom upon the rocks surround their beaches.
The disc ends with the instrumental “Fusion Flight 55,” an intriguing Jazz/Rock fusion exercise that features some blistering guitar from Greg Borino against keyboards and drums that recall the majesty of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, serving as another vehicle displaying Airborne’s impressive versatility.
Silver Skies from Airborne is guaranteed to delight both long-time followers in addition to the uninitiated. It is compelling, salient, and an inspired disc from start to finish displaying the time proven recipe that works so very well to garner Airborne their uniquely precious sound.
Musicians: Thomas Borino (Piano, Organ, Keyboards, Vocals). Greg Borino (Guitars, Vocals), Thomas Sansone (Sax, Flute, Vocals), Donnell Roberts (Bass), Dave Ramsey (Drums), Randy Bost (Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Vocals), Asher Derleme (African and Latin Percussion)
Randall Parrish is a Senior Editor at Vivascene, with extensive publishing credits at various jazz and blues sites. He is also an avid guitar player whose musical knowledge of jazz, blues and roots music is widely respected. Based in Nevada, he can be reached by email here: RandallParrish@vivascene.com