WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE!

Barbara Jones & Henrik Bridger — This Side Up

Sept. 1, 2010

I just happened upon this fine duo, pianist Barbara Jones and Swedish bassist Henrik Bridger,during a casual search and couldn’t be happier that I did. I’m sure that saxman Eric Marienthal found them in a much more personal manner and certainly had to have taken as immediate a liking to them as I did, as he joins them here on four of the ten tracks of their latest release, This Side Up, a delectable offering of diverse tastes of smooth jazz, with even one mainstream twist for added flavor.   

On the peppy opening and title track, Marienthal’s trademark sassy sax provides a nice intro to the duo (for those of us who may need one), and you just know it’s going to be an enjoyable journey-and it is just that-as the album dances and sways through each tune with equal amounts of exuberance and sultriness.   All types of moods abound here. The sexy side swoops you up on tracks like “Words Unspoken” and “Green Eyes” as Jones seduces with her light well-stated touches on piano while Bridger holds down the bottom with soulfully deep and thick bass lines.  There’s the finger-snappin’, mid-tempo  offering “On My Way,”  featuring Marienthal, an island mover “Rio del Mar,” a sassy slow-to-mid-tempo vibe on “Bittersweet,” and Marienthal again on “Kilsyth” to take you to that mid-level funk place.
 
In the midst of all this, the duo finds time to level it all off with a visit to the land of more traditional/mainstream jazz with “Summer Wind.”   They close with some funked-up bass on a  contemporary/jazz fusion piece. Oh, I do like the way these two mix up the flavors and  invoke the moods.  Their individual and collective exposure to jazz, rock, fusion, and classical music serves them well, and I truly hope we will get to hear so much more from this fine collaboration of talent.  — Ronald Jackson