Smooth Jazz CD Reviews

Our reviews of various smooth jazz CDs. We also review certain Latin, World, & blues music releases on separate pages on the site. TSJR does not engage in negative reviews. All CDs presented here are releases that we accept as being quite worthy--even outstanding in many cases. If a release does not warrant such an assessment in our view, we will simply decline to review it.

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Ray Anthony & Powerslyde – Have Fun

June 16, 2017

I tell you, I have watched the trombone become a major funk player in smooth jazz over the years, stepping up and taking the lead on some of the most masterful projects to hit the music scene. Happening now on the scene are Ray Anthony & Powerslyde with their new release Have Fun.

Loaded with feel-good funky grooves and rhythms, these guys are sure to be household names as soon as their brand catches fire – and it will if they persist. There’s that special unnamed “something” that’s inherent in the magic spell of their music that speaks to the very certainty of success with the smooth jazz masses if they massage this style and sound of theirs and allow it to seep into the consciousness and soul of jazzers everywhere. This is quality and skill neatly wrapped in a supercool package. “In the pocket” doesn’t even begin to describe the magnetism of this group. They hit hard and often with tunes that are simply irresistible and colorful. Read full review


Burt Brion – The Secret’s Out

June 16, 2017

As pianist/keyboardist Burt Brion’s sophomore release’s title states, The Secret’s Out. Here comes smooth jazz with strength, sophistication, substance, finesse, and sass. Yep, the secret is indeed out now. San Diego can no longer claim this pianist all for itself.

With soulful, captivating compositions guaranteed to capture even the most casual listener, Brion lays it on thick and heavy here.

With a very competent set of support musicians along for the ride (longtime saxman Jason Weber being one of them), Brion lets the groove fly and touch all within earshot. Read full review


Jackiem Joyner – Main Street Beat

June 9, 2017

What a pleasure it has been for me to witness the growth of saxman Jackiem Joyner from his Babysoul debut to Lil Man Soul and through Evolve. Now, with Main Street Beat, his latest release that takes on a seriously funky attitude and draws on that classic Motown sound and experience, the solid saxman pushes his groove to yet another level of smooth.

The album, much inspired by fatherhood and his precious daughter Trinity, kicks the tenor of his music into another gear as he feeds off the energy and effervescence of his little pride and joy. He says of her, “Trinity was right there in the studio during a lot of the writing process. Her jumpy and bouncy upbeat little self is really reflected on this album.” I can only imagine. Who knows? With that kind of jubilant spunk, we may get to witness her as a high-profile artist/performer in her own right someday. Read full review


Sweet Lou Olutosin – Meet Me At the Crossroads

June 9, 2017

When I write about musical diversity, eclecticism, and the manner in which artists cleverly merge genres and subgenres, especially in jazz, I am talking about artists exactly like jazz vocalist “Sweet” Lu Olutosin. Olutosin’s latest release, the aptly titled Meet Me At the Crossroads, explores that merger in such a refreshing, cool, and cushiony fashion that one must simply nod, smile, and tap to the groove.

With a smooth vocal style that reminds one of the late great Lou Rawls, Kevin Whalum, and the late iconic crooner Al Jarreau and that captures the poetic flow often heard in vocalist Raul Midon’s music, Olutosin works his magic on each and every track with personality, giving one the strong sense that, yes, he really enjoyed making this recording. This is not just music for profit’s sake; it’s music for soul rejuvenation. Read full review


Steve Raybine – Cool Vibes

June 1, 2017

Vibes virtuoso Steve Raybine already has much about which to boast, having appeared at numerous jazz venues around the world, having performed with or appeared as an opening act for the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Stanley Jordan, Michael Feinstein, Rick Braun, and countless others. So, with such an impressive resume, one can come to expect quality jazz from this artist. Cool Vibes delivers just that kind of quality jazz in a silky smooth/contemporary jazz vein. The album was released quite a few months ago but not so long ago as to disregard its value now. Read full review


Mattias Roos – Movin’ Up

May 29, 2017

With the same feel-good buoyancy as was displayed on his My Story release last year, Swedish keyboardist Mattias Roos is back with a colorful collection of originals entitled Movin’ Up. This time, having caught the experienced ear of smooth jazz guitarist U-Nam, Roos is recording on the guitarist’s Skytown Records label – a very smart move by U-Nam.

The CD has solid, cool structure and loads of melody with the brilliance of nimble fingers tickling the ivories and the help of U-Nam’s production and guitar skills on certain tracks, along with an appearance by saxman Elan Trotman on a couple of tracks. Read full review


Andre Cavor – Road Trip

May 29, 2017

While I wouldn’t go far as to say that saxman Andre Cavor is the first to combine his love for both smooth jazz and gospel as Ben Tankard, Jonathan Butler, and Kirk Whalum come to mind (the latter two may not wish to think of some of their efforts as combining the two, but the spirit of what they do supports this and is oh-so-evident), let me be the first to acknowledge that this saxman who has released his debut effort Road Trip proves to be no bottom-shelf slouch in this area of jazz/gospel. His emotional power, his drive, and the substance of his strong material is not only satisfying to the ear but most inspirational. Few express their passion via their instrument better than he does. Read full review


Jason Miles – Kind of New 2: Blue Is Paris

May 29, 2017

One of the most unique recordings I’ve reviewed to date, legendary producer/keyboardist/composer Jason Miles’ new project, a single track with 10 different interpretations called Kind of New 2: Blue Is Paris is as profound as it is creative.

Blue Is Paris is a sort of return to Miles’ critically acclaimed 2015 release called Kind of New, which was a collaboration with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen in Paris. The inspiration finds itself rooted in the impact that the 2015 terror attacks in the city had on the composer — so impactful that he returned home with the idea of working on music for a second Kind of New project that he would ultimately title Blue Is Paris. Read full review


Ed Maina – In the Company of Brothers

May 29, 2017

Here’s an interesting collection of original tracks called In the Company of Brothers from one Ed Maina, a cool and effective saxman/flautist who dances back and forth from straight-ahead/easy listening tracks to high-steppin’ rhythmic Latin-influenced grooves to solid smooth jazz offerings, all done colorfully and tastefully.

Fitting everything jazz into this fulfilling album with something for everyone, the funk, the sophistication, the drive, and the smooth of it all is certainly not hard to find and should be lost on no one. Read full review


Duffmusiq — Soulleash

May 29, 2017

The debut release, Soulleash, from international guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and award-winning producer Damir Demirovic (aka Duffmusiq} is an eclectic album of full-bodied jazz fused with R&B grooves.

Wearing many hats on this project (producer and mixer, as well as guitarist, keyboardist, saxophonist, and bassist), Duffmusiq weaves a smooth cloth of satiny, bluesy, and soulful out of impressive material known as simply good music. Read full review