Personnel: Paul Hardcastle (guitar, various instruments); Steve Menzies, Jaki Graham, Helen Rogers, Caroline Dayley (vocals); Phil Todd, Chris Snake Davis (saxophone, flute).
Recorded at Paul Hardcastle Studios, London, England.
Personnel: Caroline Dayley, Jaki Graham, Steve Menzies (vocals); Chris Snake, Philip Todd (flute, saxophone); Helen Rogers (background vocals).
Paul Hardcastle redefined his career with 1993's Jazzmasters, turning himself into a smooth jazz musician. He expands on that approach on Hardcastle 1, hiring a large cast of vocalists -- not just Jazzmasters veteran Helen Rogers, but Caroline Dayley, Steve Menzies, Imani, and Jaki Graham -- while adding a new pair of reeds players, Chris Davis and Philip Todd. Since Hardcastle still handles the majority of the instruments, Hardcastle 1 has about as much breathing room as Jazzmasters I, but the main difference is that this finds him jazzing up his smooth jazz with worldbeat influences, typified by the breakthrough single "Rainforest." Ultimately, the music is still likely to slip into the background, but it's pleasing and illustrates that his talents as a jazz musician are beginning to deepen. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine