Resolution 88 – Vortex promo page

UK jazz-funk fusion quartet Resolution 88 are back with their fourth studio album Vortex, featuring 8 tunes that take the band’s sound in a new direction compositionally whilst retaining their signature sound of the Fender Rhodes and synthesizers used by Herbie Hancock and Toby Smith of Jamiroquai.


ARTIST: Resolution 88

TITLE: Vortex

LABEL: Synthethesia Records

RELEASE DATE: June 19th 2024

FORMAT: LP / CD / Digital


GENRE: jazz-funk / fusion

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Rehearsed and recorded as a quartet, new album Vortex by Resolution 88 features guest artists Vanessa Haynes on vocals and Tom Smith on saxophone and bass clarinet. On previous albums the band had added orchestral overdubs inspired by records like Herbie Hancock’s Manchild album but on this record, the only overdubs are extra synthesisers. Bandleader and composer Tom O’Grady went all-out to recreate the sound world from his favourite Mizell Brothers productions and Herbie Hancock records – everything you hear on this album – from the Mellotron to the Echoplex, from to the Oberheim 4 Voice to the glockenspiel – is the real thing. The artwork was beautifully painted by Tokio Aoyama, inspired by the title track “Vortex” and as a homage to the works of other Japanese artists such as Nobuhiro Nakanishi who painted the cover of Herbie Hancock’s live album Flood.

“The Boss from Boston” opens the record in powerful style – Tiago Coimbra’s virtuosic bass playing weaves around the melody line in the style of the great Marcus Miller, whom Resolution 88 supported at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. The album swiftly moves on to the instrumental version of “Love Will Come Around”, which reappears in a vocal version at the end of the record. ARP Odyssey melodies soar over a real Roland CR78 drum machine (as used by Hall & Oates and many others).

“Sky High (for Larry & Fonce)” is a tribute to the Mizell brothers whose 70s productions are loved and celebrated around the world – nowhere more so than the UK. Tom O’Grady fell in love with their music as soon as he discovered it and it has been hugely influential in his life as a musician. Composing a song seemed the most natural way to thank the Mizells for the musical inspiration. When Larry heard this track his response made all the obsession over using all-original instruments worth it. He said “Monumental, that you used an ARP Odyssey with a phaser and the Echoplex. That’s what I thought I was hearing! Kudos to you – your chops were off the scale too”.

Side A closes out with “Never Ever Ever”, which opens with a sparse atmospheric groove before a snarling Odyssey solo grabs the listener. The Odyssey abruptly screams into the distance and luscious Oberheim chords enter, signalling a build into a euphoric wall of sound.

Side B starts with a classic jazz funk groover, “Shriffty”. As the name would suggest, this track is heavy on the riffs. Tom Smith guests on this track, playing the greasy lead line on tenor sax and closing out the tune with a raucous, screaming sax solo. In the middle section, Tom O’Grady delivers a signature Rhodes solo inspired by his favourite players Herbie Hancock and Patrice Rushen.

“Final Approach” mimics the pulsing landing lights that guide a plane on the runway at night. This tune is a chilled, late night groove that evokes the romance and thrill of flying to new places. It’s also probably how Butcher Brown might sound if they were English.

“Vortex” is the title track of the album and it’s an epic 8 minute adventure. The opening bass ostinato is kept rhythmically ambiguous as all kinds of cosmic sounds orbit. As the drums enter the bass suddenly makes sense. Tom Smith plays a deceptively simple melody on soprano sax and bass clarinet which builds in tension until everything collapses in on itself, the tempo doubles and the listener is sucked into the vortex. A screaming soprano sax solo in the vein of Bennie Maupin breaks temporarily into a vast space of tranquillity before the listener re-enters the vortex and this time it’s a Rhodes solo by Tom O’Grady accompanied by Ric Elsworth’s frenetic, driving energy on drums, Tiago Coimbra’s grooving jazz bass and Oli Blake’s earthy, powerful percussion. Suddenly, everything dissolves and the listener is back outside the vortex, in outer space.

“Love Will Come Around feat. Vanessa Haynes” is the vocal version of the second track of the album. Vanessa Haynes is best known for singing lead with UK jazz funk legends Incognito for over a decade and on this tune she brings all that jazz-funk experience as well as her incredible soulful voice. This song (both the instrumental and the vocal) is a reaction to everything that is going on in the world at the moment. It’s impossible to read the news each day without feeling despair and Tom O’Grady really wanted to write something uplifting with a positive message that we can all find the best in ourselves and each other.