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Leslie Drayton – Free and Easy

Mar. 9, 2014

Here’s a project that is really titled well as trumpeter/flugelhorn player Leslie Drayton lays out some original smooth grooves that are truly, as the CD title states, Free and Easy.

With nicely laid bass lines and trumpet chops on top of some charged and emphatic rhythms, Drayton offers here some mellow yet often funky jams in many different shades of soulful jazz.

With a career that includes associations with the likes of the late Marvin Gaye, Nancy Wilson, Sylvester, and supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as stints with his own bands, Drayton stands pretty qualified to speak to the language of groove jazz, and he does so quite well here.

Tracks of note for this writer include the lead track “Remember When”- a rousing kickoff to an album with much promise, “Back in the Day” whose bass line and overall vibe closely resemble the late Donny Hathaway’s “The Ghetto,” the tender “Alone in the Dark” which features some definitive bass work,  the sensuous bossa nova-like “ Afterthoughts,”  the high-steppin’ and funky title track, the lazily enticing and convincingly artful “M.A.R.S Landing,” and the sassy stomper “Jam Groove.”

Drayton is another trumpeter who keeps the feel and role of the instrument in the mainstream of this genre so effectively, joining so many others who have seduced it so mightily over the years.  Free and easy is the way he approaches this project and the way you will most likely receive it. Abundantly soulful and often enticing, the feel he tries to convey here is easily recognized.  Go along on this journey.  I doubt that you will be at all disappointed. – Ronald Jackson