February 12, 2012
Stanley Jordan describes him “as a genuinely gifted and accomplished musician.” George Benson praises his technical prowess and improvisation. Ronnie Laws has described his playing as “extremely soulful and intense.” Who is the object of such noteworthy praise? Admittedly, I was unaware of this marvelous guitarist hailing from the beautiful island of St. Lucia until hearing this, his sophomore release entitled Shades. His name is Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, and he is a sound to truly behold.
Bringing forth the sounds of the Caribbean and a hint of that sweet African melody and rhythm often found in the music of the wonderful Jonathan Butler, he is one talent hard to pigeonhole, and how sweet that is. In addition to the Caribbean and Butler-like stylings, we hear some Benson-like scatting, hints of Kenny Burrell and Carlos Santana, and so much more.
It is not hard to stop whatever you’re doing, grab a seat (or a dance partner), and fall captive to the gripping rhythms and the exquisite sounds emanating from Hinkson’s guitar.
There are just eight tracks here, and I think you will be hard-pressed to find one mediocre or dull one. So full of vibrant color and energy, this album speaks of happy and exotic music like a true expert. There are delicious journeys like that found on the opening track and its mid-tempo drive and catchy vocal chorus, the rousing “African Queen (Fi Amenwah),” the Santana-like “La Luna Latina,” the marvelously cool interpretation of the Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney “She’s Mine,” and the beautiful but sad “User Friendly” with the tender vocals of Stacy Charles. There’s something here for every contemporary jazz fan in one form or another because there’s an abundance of excitement, diversity, and beauty.
The name was unknown to me before now. However, if the pattern of true allegiance to producing good quality music with such exotic appeal continues, Ronald “Boo” Hinkson will not leave my radar screen again. – Ronald Jackson