October 15, 2017
Tomi Malm hails from Finland and has been a respected figure for the past twenty-plus years on the North-European music scene. Malm works as a composer, arranger, orchestrator and producer on a multitude of successful records, TV themes and multimedia scores. In 2009, Malm rose to international attention with the now-classic release of Fly Away: The Songs Of David Foster, also on our label. Tomi arranged and produced a number of David Foster's classics on Fly Away. He showed such creativity and freshness on these recordings that he gained high praise and blessings from "The Hitman" David Foster himself. That project took the West Coast/quality pop music scene by storm, and in the past few years it has become a landmark for musicians and fans of the genre on every corner of the planet.
Today, Tomi Malm returns with Walkin’ On Air, his debut solo album, another stunning ride on pop music's most elegant grooves. On this collection of winning tracks, the Finnish wizard wrote or co-wrote all but two of the songs. The track list presents a variety of styles, from jazz-infused pop gems to refined ballads, smooth funky jams and pristine fusion instrumentals. Malm's inventive arrangements and top-notch production is brought to life thanks to the usual ace session roster that includes legends like Vinnie Colaiuta (Sting, Zappa, Herbie Hancock), John "JR" Robinson (Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones) and Simon Phillips (Toto, The Corrs, Peter Gabriel) on drums, Dan Warner (Madonna, Timbaland, Barry Gibb) and James Harrah (Aaron Neville, Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti) on guitars, Neil Stubenhaus (Roberta Flack, Joe Cocker, Michael McDonald) and Alex Al (Michael Jackson, Al Jarreau, George Duke) on bass, Robbie Buchanan (Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Chaka Khan) on keyboards plus Luis Conte (James Taylor, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton) on percussion. The horn department is also stellar, with aces like Eric Marienthal (Chick Corea, Barbra Streisand, Elton John) and Brandon Fields (Tower of Power, The Rippingtons, George Benson) on sax, and a guest appearance from the smoking Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns.
From the first track, an evocative instrumental called "Kuwakaribisha," listeners will be enraptured by a musical world of astounding beauty. All the compositions are spectacular, but we'd like to mention in particular the title track; a jazzy mid-tempo composition featuring former Chicago singer Jason Scheff on vocals and bass. Co-written with renown lyricist Jackie Kavan, "Walkin' On Air" seems destined to become a classic in West Coast/Pop circles thanks to epic performances by Colaiuta and Marienthal. Another stand-out track is "Favor," with vocals courtesy of the insanely talented Frank Adahl. "Favor" has echoes of the best Phil Collins' work of the eighties with stunning horn arrangements and a fantastic groove provided by Simon Phillips on drums.
Malm shows his genius on a series of ballads that range in style from jazzy to pop and AOR.
"Show Me A Sign" is written by Hank Easton and features a heart-wrenching performance by the late Warren Wiebe (July 18, 1953 to October 25, 1998). Malm built the instrumental track around Wiebe's vocals and the result is a killer ballad with a strong, pulsating feeling.
The ultra-talented ZoSia from Poland joins Wiebe and their mingling voices are pure ear candy.
Another highlight is "Perfect Imperfection" sung by Jeff Pescetto. Malm, on this smooth, soul/pop ballad, exposes his inner Burt Bacharach to create a magical tune with beautiful lyrics written by Jackie Kavan, that could easily belong in the legendary composer's songbook. "You Belong To Me" is another spectacular track which offers an outstanding vocal performance, this time by Grammy Award-Winner Clif Magness. Fans of Magness/Planet 3’s work will find echoes of it in this beautiful arrangement which flows amazingly with a great, driving guitar work courtesy of Dan Warner.
"Reason To Smile" is an unreleased gem written by the amazing Jeremy Lubbock (Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand). Malm treated this rarefied melody with respect and the result is a work of art: a delicate, jazz-infused track sung by Julian Thomas backed up by just a Rhodes played by Eirik Berge, with Malm on keyboards. The grace and allure of "Reason To Smile" proudly stands alongside previous Lubbock masterpieces including "Not Like This", written for Al Jarreau, and "Goodbye Love", sung by The Manhattan Transfer.
On "Wouldn’t It Be Kinder", we are presented with another emotional and intimate arrangement, featuring profound lyrics by Cecily Gardner. This amazing ballad showcases a stellar vocal performance by Shem Von Schroeck, Kenny Loggins’ longtime collaborator/musical director and current bassist for the legendary group Toto, enhanced by the superior guitar work of session great James Harrah.
Finally, let’s mention a few other goodies on Walkin’ On Air. The haunting instrumental titled "Still Life" is quite close to Pat Metheny's territory with its cinematic power. The soulful mid-tempo titled "Let's Get To It" is co-written and sung by the extraordinary Jerry Lopez, leader of the famed Santa Fe & Fat City Horns. This light-funk jam is a catchy and exciting number in the best tradition of soul giants Earth, Wind & Fire.
Fasten your seatbelt while you get lost in Tomi Malm’s spectacular world of music. You won't regret it!
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