Smooth Jazz CD Reviews

Our reviews of various smooth jazz CDs. We also review certain Latin, World, & blues music releases. 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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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


Skinny Hightower — Emotions

May 22, 2017

On the heels of a well-produced classy & funky debut release just last year, pianist/composer/producer Skinny Hightower returns intent on establishing his very distinct brand with his new release Emotions, a confident, full-bodied release with that inherent funk element proudly on display.

With a decidedly boogie soul embedded in his competent jazzy style, Hightower shows here, as he did on his previous release Cloud Nine, that he fully knows and understands the intangible mechanics of reaching that soul that’s burning for melody, funk, and sophistication all wrapped neatly in a suave package that speaks to the groove and the heart simultaneously. Read full review


George Anderson – Body and Soul

May 22, 2017

Jazz funk bassist George Anderson, renowned for his work with the U.K. acid jazz band Shakatak, has been embarked on his own solo career for a few years now, releasing his fourth solo effort here (three studio recordings and one live set) called Body and Soul. His is the classic case of U.S.-under-appreciated, unheralded rock-solid talent. Not having seen a U.S. concert calendar available for him, I must say that talent this big needs much more exposure here in the States. I’m hoping promoters, sponsors, and fans alike will help to make that happen and soon. After all, along with being a member of the world renowned Shakatak, you only need to listen to know that his brand of funk is distinct and presented with an abundance of power and heft. Read full review


Maysa – Love Is A Battlefield

May 20, 2017

Smooth jazz’s adored five-star nightingale has again flown in and landed with yet another precious gem of a collection of covers delivered in her own usual inimitable way. What can anyone say about this songbird that hasn’t already been said? The Baltimore, MD, songstress is lovely, mega-talented with an outrageous vocal range, and always equipped with stirring and infectious material totally packed with melody, balance, and body. No wonder she made such an impression on Bluey Maunick of Incognito so many years ago that he recruited her to share her impactful vocals as the frontperson for that iconic group. Now on her 14th solo effort (by my count), Love Is A Battlefield, she again dazzles with brightness and charm. Read full review


Pieces Of a Dream – Just Funkin’ Around

May 20, 2017

Yep, that perennial jazz/funk outfit that’s been a fixture in our smooth/contemporary jazz lives for decades, Pieces of a Dream, is at it again, and you can expect that this latest release, Just Funkin’ Around, will rock the foundation of the jazz/funk world once again. I think I have the answer to how they are able to do it time and again: It’s simply second nature. It’s who they are and what they do – compose hits and keep this genre alive and kickin’ with funk, power, presence, and relevance. Sounds too simplified? That’s because it is. You can’t explain this level of acquired competence and depth with a bunch of complex analogies and metaphors. These guys are just good – damn good. Always have been and, most likely, always will be. I would say that there must be something in that Philly water, but that doesn’t work because even other native Philadelphians will have to acknowledge that these guys are a long-running musical phenomenon unlike any they’ve ever seen. When you have the legendary Count Basie state that your band is “a tough act to follow,” there’s simply nothing more that needs to be said…but I will because this album deserves just a bit of elaboration for those who, through some odd twist of fate, have just come to know these guys. Read full review


Ragan Whiteside — Treblemaker

May 20, 2017

Flautist Ragan Whiteside’s star continues to shine brightly with this latest release Treblemaker. Hers is always a refreshing, lilting, and sweet sound, giving life to each and every note on each and every track.

Treblemaker features some smooth jazz heavyweights who’ve clearly left their fingerprints all over the genre: saxmen/composers Kim Waters and Marion Meadows, keyboardist/composer Bob Baldwin, and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Frank McComb. Together with several other fine musicians, they make this production a full-bodied adventure into the bright world of Whiteside’s brand of flute jazz. Read full review