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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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Al DeGregoris – Time and a Half

Dec. 7, 2016

Again with the “Time” theme, keyboardist Al DeGregoris puts on another display of how to mix sophisticated classy and intricate jazz fusion with that always-appealing funk spice with his latest release Time and a Half.

Featuring household names like Nils, Jeff Lorber, Eric Marienthal, Andy Snitzer, and Steve Cole, this project is totally coated with the elixir for the jazz soul. Full of body, character, and swagger, it’s a true clinic on how to do this groove right.

Leading off with a spirited and innovative cover of the great Sly & The Family Stone classic “Everyday People,” the album constantly picks up steam as it rolls through to its finale. Read full review

 

Lawson Rollins – 3 Minutes to Midnight

Dec. 7, 2016

As one of those guitarists who first captured my attention with his Latin-infused and Nuevo Flamenco guitar style quite awhile ago, Lawson Rollins continues to provide awe-inspiring melodies and riffs on his latest release, 3 Minutes to Midnight (wonder what’s the inspiration behind that interesting title?), scheduled for release in January 2017.

Pushing through this album with the richness you’d expect from one who knows this Latin jazz subgenre all too well, Rollins again puts on display his mastery of the exoticism of the music that has so captivated those of us who have been sufficiently exposed to it to know it holds so much mystique and elegance. Read full review

 

Derek Ryan Edwards — 10 West

Dec. 7, 2016

I just got wind of this promising saxman – Derek Ryan Edwards — recently, although his debut release, 10 West, has been around for three months now, and I’m certainly glad he contacted me with this smooth piece of work.

Coming to us from the jazz-rich L.A. area of California, Edwards brings a sweet richness and clarity, as well as well-composed and melodic tracks to introduce his brand of c-jazz.

From the mellow, swaying lead track “Night Sky” to the nicely arranged up-tempo title track to the head-boppin’ “Heads Up” to the sweet “On the Coast,” Edwards delivers a somewhat soft and unimposing style and material on this album. Deliberate melodies dominant his style, not necessarily in-your-face rhythms or heavy funk. This is actually fine with me, since his softer, slower tunes are truly captivating. Read full review

 

Brian Culbertson – Funk!

Nov. 17, 2016

Months prior to its release, we had been forewarned of the mighty musical earthquake headed our way in the form of keys master Brian Culbertson’s latest release, simply entitled Funk!, which of course, totally embodies the very nature and feel of Culbertson’s “fingerprint.” Full of phat, infectious grooves, it has totally lived up to its early promotion.

Featuring such luminaries as keyboardist/vocalist Chance Howard and saxman Marqueal Jordan, along with other powerful support musicians (most of whom accompany Culbertson on his Funk! Tour, as well), it’s hard to imagine how this could have been anything but a party to record. Read full review

 

Gerald Albright — G

Oct. 31, 2016

The iconic saxman who many of us have now come to affectionately know as simply “G,” Gerald Albright, explodes on the scene again with another example of his seemingly infinite musicality with a new release simply called G, his first on his new independent label. It’s an album that, along with good modern day funk and jazz, also tosses in that old school flavor that hearkens back to his deep jazz & R&B roots with breathing, soulful, swelling sax solos. It’s also another demonstration of his superior bass skills (so superior that I would comfortably place him among the best).

Joined here by the renowned producer/musician Chris “Big Dog” Davis, vocalist Michael McDonald, and yes, rapper Doug E. Fresh, the album comes packed with pleasant surprises, innovative covers, and that bright “G” sound and style. Read full review

 

Peter White – Groovin’

Oct. 19, 2016

The iconpeter-white-groovin-cdic acoustic jazz guitar magic man, Peter White, is back on the scene, this time offering a set of covers entitled Groovin’. Since we haven’t heard him performing an album of covers for a while now, I think this batch of gems will be welcomed with open arms – as are all of White’s projects, for that matter.

Joined here by such prominent names as trumpeter Rick Braun (a sidekick of White’s for many years now), saxmen Euge Groove and young Vincent Ingala, and the late drummer Ricky Lawson – along with other notables such as David Dyson (bass), Selina Albright (vocals), the popular Ramon Yslas (percussion), and a host of others, White dazzles and dances through this album, bringing your heart, soul, and memories along with him onto that dance floor. Read full review

 

Chris Geith – Well Tempered Love

Oct. 19, 2016

If you’re looking for cool, swaying, sauntering, and soul-fulfilling smooth jazz melodies laid out on piano by really able fingers, chris-geith-cdpianist/keyboardist/composer Chris Geith as just what you need as demonstrated on his new well-rounded release Well Tempered Love. It’s an album that completely provides you with all you’ll need to take that satisfying journey into the soothing and enveloping mist of full-bodied c-jazz. With the light and well-defined touch of one who knows this mood all too well, Geith guides you through an aural experience that uplifts, caresses, and rivets you with artfully fine work here. Read full review

 

Paul Taylor — Countdown

Oct. 10, 2016

With his trusted collaborator, writer/producer Dino Esposito, by his side, smooth saxman Paul Taylor again puts forth his brand of silky. Melodic c-jazz as only he can with his 10th solo release Countdown.  Melody and this guy go hand-in-hand and always have since his paul-taylor-countdown-cd1995 On The Run debut and his years with pianist/keyboardist extraordinaire Keiko Matsui. After collaborations with the likes of sexy saxtress Jessy J, the rockin’ iconic Canadian saxman Warren Hill, and one of the true veterans of romantic smooth jazz sax Marion Meadows, Taylor is back with another solo shot that will surely be heard around the jazz world.

Kicking it all off with his signature style and sound on the album’s title track, Taylor never raises his foot off the gas here, offering delicacy after delicacy (including what has to be my favorite here, “What You Love’” a sultry romantic sizzler whose title says it all as you take in its ethereal beauty). You get a similar vibe when experiencing the quiet heat of “The Hills.” Another of my faves along with the finale – the grippingly sweet “Crossroads.“ Read full review

 

U-Nam – Surface Level

Sept. 21, 2016

And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the one who placed Funk Ave. on the map of France comes another blazer by that household u-nam-surface-cdfunkateer guitarist/producer U-Nam. What can one say about this cat? He obviously eats, drinks, and sleeps jazz/funk in ways many can only imagine. Stepping out all ablaze with fire and color on his latest called Surface Level, the guitar maestro does what has now become customary for him – turn the genre inside out and on its ear with the brightest, tightest, classiest, and funkiest of melodies, guitar riffs and hooks. His stratospheric and innovative grasp of what makes a hit a hit is virtually uncanny. Perhaps we should have him wear a cape and deem him to be some kind of jazz superhero. How about it, U-Nam? Up for that?
Read full review

 

Chuck Loeb – Unspoken

Sept. 21, 2016

Master jazz guitarist/visionary Chuck Loeb again rolls out yet another fine project, Unspoken, that further compliments and hails the chuck-loeb-unspoken-cdintricacies and meticulous nature of well-played J-A-Z-Z. Here’s another perfect example of how the well-polished artist, who now boasts 18 albums to his credit as a leader (counting this one), can dash between solid straight-ahead styles and melodies to the contemporary smooth stuff and that which carries the emotive and exotic Brazilian touch.

Here on Unspoken, we are tantalized by the Jeff Lorber/Loeb connection with “Cotton Club,” a nicely paced steppin’ piece with a lot of the trademark sound of both artists, followed by another high-steppin’ very melodic track called “Natural Light,” featuring saxman Andy Snitzer. Read full review