Feb. 26, 2011
Sometimes you can really sense when an artist is bound for the mainstream spotlight of this genre. Saxophonist Greg Chambers, no stranger in the music industry (having worked as a freelance musician and private woodwind instructor), in my opinion, is one of those artists. His latest release, After Hours (due on the streets on March 26), is only 7 tracks long, and each and every track is a bonafide, competent, on-the-money groove. It comes on the heels of his self-titled CD, which charted on the Jazzweek Top 50 Smooth Singles Chart and made the Most Added/Increased Airplay lists for Billboard Magazine, Smoothjazz.com, and RadioWave.
This most appealing project and Chambers’ talent and ability to deliver it effectively has forced me to go out on a pretty sturdy limb here with a prediction. In short order, this talented, smooth artist with a true grip on the contemporary jazz groove, will be a firm fixture in this genre and one able to pack venues with excited and enthusiastic jazzers everywhere he plays.
To place an exclamation point on my prediction, luminaries like Paul Brown, Darren Rahn, and Jonathan Fritzen have lent their talents to the making of this CD in one way or another. I hardly think that artists with reputations to protect would get behind an artist who’s lacking the sheen and potential to produce musical dividends. With one listen, you will hear why Chambers caught the ears and enthusiasm of these artists.
The material on this album is solid, well-arranged, and packed with infectious melodies and irresistible charm. Deciding to venture out with only seven tracks indicates the saxman’s confidence in the content and quality, not the quantity, of the tracks. What he’s managed to do is create a project that will keep you listening from track one’s “In the Pocket,” featuring guitarist/producer Paul Brown until the last note of the final track, a cool offering of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”
There’s an interesting swinging piece that he tosses in at track 5, “Groovin’ High,” that demonstrates his mastery of jazz outside of the so-called “smooth jazz” circles. The runs and tempo on this one are as riveting as any of the other pieces on this album.
Also among this collection of serious grooves is the sweet & slow, almost melancholy, track called “Chelsea’s Song,” again featuring Paul Brown. Heavenly.
If you’re looking for strong, solid contemporary jazz that’s played with authority and from someplace deep in the soul, Chambers’ After Hours will be waiting for you with open arms on March 26. I don’t think you’d want to stand it up. – Ronald Jackson