If we speak about classic AOR / West Coast, "Unum" - the first album from this fascinating project called ROCHA - is without a doubt one of the greatest recordings made in the genre from the last 20 years and more.
Yeah, I can't remember which was the last album recorded in the AOR / West Coast field that included the 'who's who' from the L.A Session golden era, but I assure you that the luminaries participating in "Unum" even surpasses the stellar 'personnel list' from any '80s recording in this vein.
Sure, the likes of Slama's AOR or Peter Friestedt have been doing a great work bringing back mega-talented players into the studio in recent years, but Rocha's "Unum" is a different thing.
Rocha is a more 'integral' recording as all musicians are involved, in one way or another, on all songs. And 'these little musicians' are absolutely impressive.
Read this carefully; the guitars are at charge of Jeff Paris, Michael Landau (Steve Perry, Chicago, Kenny Loggins), the unique Michael Thompson (Richard Marx, Robin Beck), Paul Pesco (Michael Bolton) and Tim Pierce (Stan Bush, Fiona).
Wow... just Wow! It seems Jeff Paris did the more rocking parts and the other skilled cats the more elaborated, atmospheric moments plus the solos.
And the amazing quality doesn't stop there; on bass you have the great Matt Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Lita Ford) and Jimmy Haslip (Jimmy Barnes, Blackjack), on drums Dave Weckl, Gary Novak, Marco Minnemann (Satriani, Silver), Vinnie Colaiuta (Eric Martin, Asia), on keys studio beast and genius arranger Jeff Lorber (who co-produced as well), Richard Baker (Shortino/Northrup, Bonrud) and Jeff Paris too, while percussion is handled, as it could not be otherwise, by legendary Lenny Castro (Toto et all).
But there's more... the vocals are performed by Jeff Pescetto, one of the most talented studio singers from the '80s who has worked & recorded with the likes of David Foster and countless soundtracks such as Top Gun.
And if you need more '80s, there's a killer sax solo by Eric Marienthal (Idle Cure, Kitaro), while on backing vocals we can hear, after many years, the fantastic pipes of Alex Ligertwood (Foreigner, Radioactive), Dan Reed, Terry Ilous (XYZ, Great White) and yes, Jeff Paris.
And.. who is Rocha, the man behind this beauty?
Rui Rocha is a Portuguese keyboardist and songwriter, and has composed all the material on "Ulum" closely helped by Jeff Paris who also play various instruments.
Rui is a talented writer, and truly modest person. He did this album for the love of music, there's not a single pic of his face in on Facebook, nor the entire net.
Oh, almost forgot something important... all that talent need a top class production.
Don't worry, "Ulum" delivers this in spades; master Keith Olsen (Whitesnake, Scorpions, Ozzy, Heart) was behind the desk, and the results are Fan-damn-tastic.
All tracks are exquisite AOR pieces plenty of melody and elegant arrangements. While there's a couple of smoother tracks with a West Coast feel, overall, "Ulum" sounds pretty 'rock', in the melodic side of '80s AOR tradition.
There's strong guitars, identifiable keyboards, solid rhythm section and veteran Jeff Pescetto voice has matured with age to a more soulful delivery.
Track by track? You don't need it.
Rocha's "Ulum" is a mandatory listening to all classic AOR fans.
01 - Lies
02 - I'll Keep Holdin'on
03 - Fallin'
04 - The Other Side Of Paradise
05 - Another Heartbreak
06 - Back Into My Heart
07 - Stop Bringin'me Down
08 - Love Of My Life
09 - Hold On You
Jeff Pescetto: lead vocals
Jeff Paris: guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Michael Landau (Steve Perry, Kenny Loggins): guitar
Michael Thompson (Richard Marx, Robin Beck) guitar
Paul Pesco (Michael Bolton): guitar
Tim Pierce (Stan Bush, Fiona): guitar
Rui Rocha: keyboards
Jeff Lorber: keyboards. co-production
Richard Baker (Shortino/Northrup, Bonrud): keyboards
Matt Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Lita Ford): bass
Jimmy Haslip (Jimmy Barnes, Blackjack): bass
Ariane Cap: bass
Marco Minnemann (Satriani, Silver): drums
Dave Weckl: drums
Gary Novak: drums
Vinnie Colaiuta (Eric Martin, Asia): drums
Eric Marienthal: sax
Lenny Castro (Toto, Chicago): percussion
Alex Ligertwood (Foreigner, Radioactive): backing vocals
Dan Reed: backing vocals
Terry Ilous (XYZ, Great White): backing vocals
Co-Produced & mixed by Keith Olsen
Mastered by Brian Foraker (Heart, Starship)
BUY IT !