Les Sabler — Crescent Shores

Aug. 12, 2010

On the sizzling hot summer days that many of us have been experiencing lately, it’s always so refreshing to grab a “cool one” like the latest release, Crescent Shores, from jazz guitarist Les Sabler, a captivating and diverse collection of some delicious and rich tracks ripe with melody and charm, many of which have been resurrected from some 19 years ago when they were first recorded in saxman Richard Elliot’s studio.  They went into storage for a later time. That later time has arrived, my friends.

What better way to kick off such an album than with a bit of that Latin cool on the opening and title track,  a samba-like tune that is so fitting for the shores for which this album is named?  It moves and sashays its way along those shores with you in step with it, as you’re careful not to waste a drop of that tasty piña colada, no doubt.  It then moves aside and allows a tight cover of the ever-popular  Stevie Wonder track “Overjoyed” to work its magic. That’s followed by a very effective cover of a light, late 80s tune by Jon Mark, “Lonely Girl.”
Sabler steps up the tempo a bit with “Island Princess” that dances its way along those crescent shores with funky, yet controlled island moves and rhythms,  his crystal clear guitar leading the way all the while, along with some equally funky keys and tight in sync horn work.  Making room for some of that deep, mellow, love-dripping, soulful stuff, complete with harmonized vocals, courtesy of Sabler and Velma Glover, “Mirror of Your Heart,” takes this project to yet another tantalizing place.  Its hypnotic melody and hook are all one needs to get through that breezy night on that shore.  Another impressive track is Sabler’s handling of Sting’s classic “Fragile.” Nicely touching and telling as his guitar does a fine job of interpreting that message.  Adding some sauce to a nice and bouncy little number called “Piece River Suite” is Richard Elliot, with whom, as stated above Sabler has shared some decent history.  That chemistry shows here. “Walfredo,” another of my favs, places flutist Steve Gould in a cool place (as it did Gene Cannon on a couple of tunes before this, including the opening track) as his flute stands out front on this exotic Latin-tinged piece.

Crescent Shores is full of diversity and charm and is certainly an interesting journey into the many nooks and crannies of what we have come to know as a pretty wide world of smooth jazz. Sabler seems to know that world quite well. He uses his craft as one talented guitarist to continue to explore it well. — Ronald Jackson