Mar. 21, 2017
Virginia-raised Air Force vet (many, many thanks for his service, by the way) Lowell Hopper has been laying down his buttery, silky smooth jazz guitar melodies and riffs since 1993, releasing a total of 13 albums (two in 2016 alone – not counting a 2016 remastering of some out-of-print earlier material!). His latest, Playing It Cool, clearly proves why he’s still a staying force in the business that he so obviously loves very much. His style is as cool as a summer breeze and as soulful as any of the soul masters of decades past could have preferred in a guitarist.
This album conjures up images of easy, relaxing, carefree evenings lounging on the beach or nestled in front of a crackling fire with a lover or simply cruising the coastline, taking in all of the natural beauty that is ours. The crisp riffs, the embracing warmth of the melodies – some of which carry a touch of exoticism (like “Rain Dance” and “New Canvas,” and “In Your Eyes”) – remind me that the truest artists are so often those about whom we hear so little and who deserve so much more by way of recognition. This cat is class personified.
Did I mention that this gifted guitarist is also a multi-instrumentalist who plays bass, keys, and provides drum programming on this project? To his credit, each song is his own creation, by the way. The consummate jazz musician? When you toss in that he also produced and arranged everything, the answer would have to be a convincing “yes.”
Several tracks here were instantly my faves – from the lead track “On the Run” to the title track to the previously mentioned “Rain Dance” to the solid “Why Not Now” to the slick “Inside Out” and so many more. The album is just chock full of feeling and an obvious commitment to excellence and sophistication.
If this will be your first exposure to Hopper, let it not be your last as herein lies the meaning of turning mere music into an experience. – Ronald Jackson