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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As of Jan. 1, 2015, we will no longer be offering the Amazon MP3 sampler before any review since it is no longer supported on most mobile devices.

Kim Scott – Southern Heat

Sept. 21, 2016

The lovely flutist Kim Scott continues to dazzle us as she releases yet another demonstration of her skills on the instrument she pkim-scottroudly owns — literally and figuratively – on her latest Southern Heat album. The project contains just that – a lot of charm and heat.

Leading off with a hot, stompin’ version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” most assuredly making the King of Pop smile with pride, Scott dances effortlessly and fluidly through this album with confidence, finesse, funk, and attitude. Read full review


Richard Elliot – Summer Madness

Sept. 11, 2016

The master of that special sax “groan” and serious funk, household smooth jazz artist Richard Elliot, is again knocking ‘em dead with his latest release Summer Madness. The man simply never misses.
Here on Summer Madness, after opening with a slammin’ cover of Spyro Gyra’s “Cachaca,” Elliot proceeds to coax his way into our listening sensibilities and capture our every musical sense with his classic combination of funk, soul, jazz, and just being Elliot. Tracks like the mid-tempo “Breakin’ It Down,” the killer cover of Carlos Santana’s classic “Europa” (can’t you just hear Elliot playing that even as you read this??), and the ultra-funky “West Coast Jam,” among others here, are simply the typical slayers always offered by the saxman. No one does it quite like this giant funkster. Read full review


Jazmin Ghent – Chocolate Sunshine

Sept. 11, 2016

The lovely young saxtress who captured our collective smooth jazz hearts a couple or so years back and grabbed the award for best performer in the Smooth Jazz Cruise’s Amateur Artist contest, Jazmin Ghent, is back with another delightful group of compositions jazmin-ghent-choc-cdmeant for the heart and soul (and a few dancing feet, as well). The album, appropriately entitled Chocolate Sunshine, further cements the young lady’s place in the future of smooth jazz.

With keyboardist/composer Jonathan Fritzen, bassist Julian Vaughn, guitarist Adam Hawley, and saxman Nelson Rangell lending their helping hands and talents to the project, Ghent starts off already in great shape. Read full review


Aziza Miller – This Journey of Love

Sept. 11, 2016

Here’s a fresh offering from New Yorker and former musical director for the late Natalie Cole, keyboardist/vocalist/poet Aziza Miller. The new aziza-miller-cdEP This Journey of Love is a solid production of top-tier quality jazz/R&B with phat keys skills, fine melodies and hooks, and smart vocals.

Combining that Latin sway (title track) with jazz sensibilities and poise, including charming and riveting tributes to the great Natalie Cole (“A Song For My Friend”) and the legendary Horace Silver (“A Song for Silver”), Miller is simply captivating in her eclecticism and meticulous handling of this music. Read full review


Darren Motamedy – All About Love

Sept. 11, 2016

Veteran saxman Darren Motamedy’s new release All About Love is a true example of how to move one’s audience from one mood to another in a hurry.darren-motamedy-cd

No stranger to stroking the smooth jazz groove, the saxman proves here that the years have been kind to his grip on the genre’s heart and soul.

After opening with an up-tempo finger-snappin’ jam called “50 Shades of Cool,” the direction and mood switches to the laid back and almost “tame” tracks “Afterglow” and the title track. He then hits you with the reflective cool and rhythmic “Floetic Smooth” featuring the effective spoken word and vocals by one Portionte Floes. Read full review


Blair Bryant – Gold

Sept. 11, 2016

Young bassist/multi-instrumentalist Blair Bryant struts out his new sophomore release Gold in high fashion, displaying tons of skill, depth, and maturity.
This album has a steady, smooth cadence that serenades one throughout. Twinkling with that hybrid jazz/R&B blend, the young artist shows that not only is he proficient on several instruments (he plays almost every instrument on this release) but that he knows a thing or two about composing and producing.

Several tracks here are simply not meant to rock you through the roof but rather to remind you that music has so many good facets – like being able to maintain a steady cool gait and still deliver on quality. Oh, make no mistake, there is that funk element. Just listen to “My Gift” – and check out his keys work on this one, by the way with impressive vocals from Joe Gallant and Alisa Bryant — “Outstanding,” and the infectious “Killa B.” This is also obviously a family affair as there are contributions from family members vocalist Alisa Bryant and co-producer Damon Bryant. In fact, there is a “family chant” on the “Killa B” track – in addition to young Bryant’s keys work and some tight sax work from Houston Smith. Slick piece indeed. Read full review


Washburn – Sassy (Old School Style)

Sept. 11, 2016

Former Gold record Motown writer/arranger/producer/instrumentalist Gary Washburn (aka Washburn) puts his own spin on our beloved Smooth Jazz with some interesting compositions here on his latest endeavor Sassy (Old School Style). On it, he explores the sultry seduction of the smoothest of jazz with sexy, rhythmic tracks like “Come Closer To My Side” with vocals by Maelan Abran ( a melodic moonlight stroll of a tune), a feel-good, swingin’ and blues-based kick-up-your-heels “G’s Thang,” the smoky and very blue-light “Sly” featuring Jesse Snyder on baritone sax, the strutting heavy blues/jazz of “Irresistible,” again featuring Abran’s tempting vocals, the Latin jazz-influenced “Maxine” with its exotic feel, the soft clarinet/piano dance of “Effloresce,” and other interesting and somewhat off-the-beaten-path tracks that really aren’t so off the path when you think about how they remind one of the beginnings of the hybrid forms of jazz with R&B, Latin, and blues back when we first heard tunes like “Girl from Ipanema,” “Walk On By,” and experienced the Herb Alpert sound. The presentation here is refreshing and, by today’s standards, almost unique. Read full review


Ken Navarro — Bonfire

Aug. 2, 2016

You know, there’s no point in simply referring to Ken Navarro as a renowned guitarist any longer. This guy, who constantly proves his musical prowess on so many different instruments, again dazzles us with his multi-instrumentalism. Here on his upcoming release Bonfire (and this is much more than a bonfire, by the way), he plays alone and on every traditional instrument imaginable – from acoustic and electric guitars to drums to electric and acoustic bass, keys, and just on and on…including saxes and trumpets. Who needs a band when you are the band…and who better to know what you want than you? Read full review


Keiko Matsui – Journey to the Heart

Aug. 1, 2016

After our 3-year-long and sensuous journey and love affair with the remarkable Soul Quest release and tour, our resident princess of contemporary jazz and World music, pianist/keyboardist/composer/visionary Keiko Matsui is back with – what else?—another guaranteed smash hit project called Journey to the Heart. Oh yes. Get ready for yet another colorful and soul-satisfying journey offered up by one who has never learned the meaning of the words “quit” or “mediocre.”

With a new collection of all-original material (did you expect anything less??) and a new musical “canvas,” the lovely and petite Japanese powerhouse takes us aboard her own magic carpet of musical ecstasy and we’re off to new and wondrous lands again! Read full review


Bob Baldwin – The Brazilian-American Soundtrack

Aug. 1, 2016

Anyone who knows anything about keyboardist/pianist/composer/producer Bob Baldwin is probably aware of his affinity for the buoyant musical grooves of Brazil. Here on his new 2-disc project, The Brazilian-American Soundtrack, the pianist devotes disc one (Rio-Ipanema) to Brazilian grooves while reserving disc two (New York) for the American fabric. Simply put, it works.

As is explained on the back side of the CD cover, Baldwin’s love affair with Brazilian music began with his love for Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, and Sergio Mendes as a child. When he witnessed the marriage between American funk/jazz and the samba bossa nova sound, that love grew by leaps and bounds. Read full review