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Smooth Jazz Alley – Been a Long Time Comin’

May 11, 2016

Smooth Jazz Alley was born out of a collaboration between longtime bandmates and friends, keyboardist Marco Montoya and guitarist Stan Evans, who played for many years with a Latin fusion band that played all sorts of tropical music from Central anSmooth Jazz Alley CDd South America, Columbia, and Puerto Rico known as Grupo Caribe. The duo later met up again after the demise of Grupo Caribe to conceptualize this latest project of smart, smooth, and often funky vibes that doesn’t always leave that previous exotic sound far behind. Been a Long Time Comin’ is a wonderful blend of pure, sweet contemporary jazz, exotic island flavors, edgy funk, and delicate R&B elements.

Also powered by some expressive and impressive bass work provided by Kenny Franklin, as well as solid drums and percussions by Miguel Melgoza and single track appearances by vocalists Lawrence Beamen and Mona Attia and great trumpet from Bill Ortega, Jr., the duo has put together a most comprehensive recipe for quality smooth jazz.

Tracks like the high-steppin’ and funky lead track “C-Funk,” the silky and steady title track, the finger-poppin’ and snappy feel-good “Eternal,” the R&B-influenced “Why,” the Latin America-soaked “Christina,” the smoky funk of “Subway,” the slick almost incognito funk of “Morning Jog,” and the undeniably dirty funk of “Stan’s Groove (which just happens to be one of my favorite groove here, as well) shows an abundance of well-conceived eclecticism by the duo. Placed well in the path of your heart and soul, the album reaches both easily.

This album so speaks to my argument that there is so much smooth jazz to be experienced on so many levels that it’s impossible to ignore the genre’s mark on our musical culture. Smooth Jazz Alley just makes that point for me very, very clearly. Thank you, guys. A+ effort. – Ronald Jackson