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Al DeGregoris – All In Good Time

Sept. 12, 2014

Pianist/keyboardist Al DeGregoris cranked out a solid piece of tight contemporary jazz with his Times and Travels release that thoroughly impressed me almost beyond words wAl DeGregoris CDith his creativity and imaginative offerings. Here, 2 years later, is the artist with a project called All In Good Time that, at its very least, stands toe to toe with its predecessor.

Full of funk, touches of classy, sophisticated fusion with a motion all its own, and accompanied by some of the finest artists around, including keys giant/producer Jeff Lorber, guitarists Nils and Chuck Loeb, suave saxman Eric Marienthal, renowned bassist Jimmy Haslip, and the late great Ricky Lawson on drums, this is another of those can’t-miss releases bound for high places on the charts, no doubt whatsoever.

This CD separates itself from the “cookie cutter” kind of smooth jazz that many of us jazzers have begun to shun in search of something with substance, depth, and creativity. This smashes the naysayers’ contention that this kind of music (and to what are they referring anyway with the term “this kind of music?”) is all “elevator music.”  Just listen. You’d have to be without a pulse not to feel this one. It is not only distinctive and full-bodied, but speaks to perfection in a clear sense.

Examples of the album’s appeal show up all over the place. Let’s start with the lead track “JD’s Groove,” a slickly strutting distinctly jazzy mid-tempo piece with definition and a mean hook — just right as a lead track. From there, DeGregoris hops into a driving Nils-penned up-tempo jam featuring the guitarist on all instruments except, of course, DeGregoris’ expressive piano work. In a word, sterling jazz quality.

“Sunnyside” is a truly bright mid-tempo piece that seems to actually attempt to instrumentally tell the story of the joy of sunshine and a carefree environment. One for that cruising road trip. “Hey You” enters with that signature mid-tempo Jeff Lorber funk/fusion and the two keyboardists sharing the keys duties while Lorber handles all of the other instruments except sax (Eric Marienthal with a great effort) and Tony Moore on drums.

The mellow and melodic “Autumn Chill” sets the stage for that time of year easily while the up-tempo funk/fusion title track gets the motor cranked up again.

So much more follows. This gift that keeps on giving is more than a music project – it’s an adventure, an experience in the totality of good quality sound.  A must-have for true contemporary jazz fans. – Ronald Jackson