THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE

Gregg Young & The 2nd Street Band--Instrumentally Yours

The combination of funky keys, soulful sax, solid percussions, muscular bass lines, the call of the steel drum, and a searing guitar here on guitarist Gregg Young’s Instrumentally Yours all make for a nice concoction of slightly retro funk, rock, and reggae passages here. The project only sports 7 tracks, but they’re pretty solid.

Y
oung and his band, The 2nd Street Band, deliver it nice and smooth, with plenty of punctuation in the right places. The opening track features saxman Eric Marienthal and starts this colorful journey off with a nice touch of some throwback  funk (he returns later to contribute to an appetizing jazz samba). That’s just the first page in this book of goodies.  Listen to the steel drum in the cover of Bob Marley’s hit “3 Little Birds,” and you develop a respect for Young’s interpretations  pretty quickly.  His rather bluesy guitar riff not only complements the steel drum but the very essence and charm of that piece.  

Following that track, and winding it down a bit, the soprano sax of Ambrose Splescia sweet talks us with the mellow and carefree “Rain Cried Softly.” Also, what the group does with Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself” is a reggae-lover’s charm, with fiery licks from Young and the heavy presence of that colorful steel drum.  Then, there’s the sharp-edged, mid-tempo “U-Center,” which adds some rock/blues-influenced grit and funk to the package with a well-placed lead guitar, funky keys, and good, firm support from the rest of the band.

Finally, let’s all head down to Seven Mile Beach and dance all night to the Caribbean steel melody of the final track on Young’s release, Aphonsus Cassel’s  appropriately titled “Hot Hot Hot.” The way to end such a nicely produced CD.  This is a rather delightful party, indeed, and Gregg Young furnishes the right refreshments. --  Ronald Jackson