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Deon Yates — Spotlight

July 13, 2012

Saxophonist Deon Yates’ latest project entitled Spotlight has that certain cool swagger to it. Even the parts where he addresses his listening audience in a swift monologue have personality.

With guest appearances by the big windy Chicago cat, guitarist Nick Colionne, the renowned nightingale Maysa, and the sweet trumpet of Lin Rountree, Yates aims for the stars with this one.

Writing the vast majority of tunes here, Yates chooses well in terms of whom to invite to enhance his work. For example, the sweet sway and Brazilian leanings of the track featuring Maysa, “Look How Far We’ve Come,” match the catchy and gentle hook with the light and airy breathiness of the songstress. Oh yes, it fits her perfectly.

Nick Colionne’s presence on track 2’s “Use to Be” gives this bright, upbeat piece a brilliant hue. His fluid chops are, as usual, sparkling with breeziness.

Rountree’s sedating trumpet and the delicious melody and rhythm of “Resaxation” certainly will take the edge off anyone’s stressful day.

The disco flavor of the title track proves to be a very nice diversion and displays some of mix of ideas with which Yates came to this project.

One track that stands out is “In the Cut,” not because it’s musically superior to the other tracks but because there is an uncanny oneness with the style and nuances of R&B crooner KEM that sets it apart in a cool way.

The romanticism of “Serenade” will put almost anyone in that special mood. Even the most cynical brokenhearted can find some solace in such a beautiful piece, enough to even perhaps believe again. The teasing piano work here is exquisite.

All in all, Yates makes his presence felt and delivers well on this project. – Ronald Jackson

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