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Phil Denny — Crossover

Aug. 3, 2012

Again, we can enthusiastically open our doors, ears, and hearts to yet another new addition to the genre, exciting saxman Phil Denny. His smooth-as-butter debut, entitled Crossover, carries a load of charm and swagger. With his sultry style, he has almost immediately made a huge impression on those who have had the privilege of hearing this well-produced project.

With his own brand of magnetism and colorful keyboardist Nate Harasim appearing throughout (as well as serving as this album’s producer), Denny convinces the likes of trumpeter Cindy Bradley and guitarist Nils to contribute on specific tracks here. One listen and you’ll understand why it must have been a piece of cake to get those luminaries to hop on board.

Tracks of note would be…all of them, but there are numbers that come to mind when I ponder this release. For example, the energized opening track “Traffic Jam,” the snappy “Give A Little,” “Playin’ Coy” (what an ironic title for a song that bears little shyness and a lot of that “come hither” sass), and “Be There For Me” (another romantic, melodically solid track sure to find favor with the ladies) rank highly on my personal chart. 

Harasim’s energy bubbles to the surface on “Push,” a tight upbeat tune that moves with you.  Vocalist Anna Stevenson brings a nice touch of seduction with her smooth vocals on the swaying, gentle track “When I Think.” Add to that a title track that calls for you to move the tables and chairs out of the way to allow for dancing room, the finger-poppin’, head boppin’ “When We Were Friends,” and the up-tempo, funky  “get at ‘em” tune “Suite Party” featuring Nils, and you’ve got one helluva formula for instant success for this promising artist.

Denny came prepared to stay. That much is obvious. When your “A” game is really an “A” game and not just an attempt to deliver top-notch material, you’ve packed the right stuff for this trip through contemporary jazz.

At the end of “Suite Party,” the last track, you hear the footsteps of one presumably heading out of a room and closing the door. You can just imagine it’s Denny reaching the conclusion that this project is ready for delivery and walking out to enter that world of jazz, a world so receptive to the kind of vibe he brings. I’d say he reached the right conclusion.  – Ronald Jackson

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