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Kevin Howard — Travels

Sept. 13, 2015

Keyboardist Kevin Howard offers a steady, full-bodied groove and cadence on his new release entitled Travels, whose theme is based on the keyboardist’s scenic and inspirational travels around the country.Kevin Howard pic

The album has slick and confident mid-tempo moments and upbeat periods where the jammin’ groove is the order of the day. Each track has a most distinct quality about it and settles you into a visionary role as you can see what he sees on his journeys.

The mid-tempo lead track, “In Motion,” struts onto the scene with class, and features some clean, clear, and melodic keyboard action from Howard with some solid help from bassist Brian Sanders on bass and drummer Brian Edwards. That’s followed by the up-tempo jazzy groove “Sedona” and displays some of Howard’s smart and most competent tickling of the ivories, as well as some cool, slick licks from guitarist Larry Estes.

The slow, soulful “Desert Morning” finds Howard in a mellow mood while showcasing saxophonist Eddie Bacchus Jr. The tune is sweet and rich with jazz flavor, as you will find to be the case throughout this well-produced album. No merging or intertwining of neo-soul, R&B, etc. Just comfortable smooth c-jazz. How sweet it is.

The Brazilian sway of “Mission Bay,” complete with the enchanting vocals of one Stephanie Wellons and percussionist Greg Morris Jr., is a wonderful diversion. You can smell the exoticism of this one so well. The same is true with “Canyon Cruise” and the rhythmic “Bay Breeze.”

Howard closes with “Journey to Paradise,” a moving dedication to his dad who passed away almost 3 years ago. Vocalists Wellons and Geraldine Hickman also do the tune justice, as does flutist Kenny Powell.

An album very easy to like and enjoy, Travels should capture you where you live musically. Its eclecticism and charm are as graceful as the ocean breeze about which Howard writes. – Ronald Jackson