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.

Clicking on a CD image in our CD Reviews section will direct you to Amazon (if the item is available there) to either listen to or buy the item. In some cases, you will be directed to CDbaby.com if the item is not available on Amazon.

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.

Patrick Yandall – Ethos

Aug. 1, 2016

To express and emphasize how the Greeks believed the power of music could alter one’s emotions, behaviors, and even morals, guitarist/composer/producer Patrick Yandall continues to tantalize and delight as he offers 15 new tracks to his collection of solid C-jazz, R&B, Latin, and blues compositions with Ethos, his 19th release.

Always one to mix and blend the musical cultures and colors of so many different genres, Yandall has one fine knack for going right into the soul and opening it up to the endless possibilities presented by his music. With his guitar always leading the way, singing its unique song and dancing its own way, the music is always expressive and embracing. Ethos is no different as it beckons your ear to partake of some real musical goodness. Read full review


Keith Mason – My Good Thing

July 23, 2016

Sometimes, a project will come to me humbly and unheralded and turn out to be such an incredible knockout that writing a review for it is almost mandatory. Indie bassist Keith Mason’s My Good Thing is just that type of impressive a project.  I’m sure that I’m introducing to many of you for the first time the inspiring, up-tempo, and happy groove of this spiritually sound and motivated artist. Not only can this cat play, he does so at the pinnacle of emotion via his bass and the compositions he presents.

Aside from his saxophonist Tadric Robinson, Mason plays all instruments here and has penned, arranged, and produced all of the compositions. My Good Thing will demand that you get on board this hallelujah train and ride. It’s all about feeling the spirit here. Read full review


Doug Jones — Secrets

July 23, 2016

Saxman Doug Jones has again come along with yet another hot & saucy project that keeps the fires of groove jazz ablaze. This one, Secrets, again has something for everyone. There’s the sweet and cool sway of smooth jazz sax serenades, there’s a healthy dose of funk, a touch of island bliss, and an all-around good vibe throughout.

This party gets started with a bright mid-tempo swaying track appropriately titled “Sunshine.” It does well as the mood-setter for this album. Jones then kicks it into the funk gear with the next track “Forgiveness,” a sassy number that lets you know this is gonna be a worthwhile journey into Jones’ vivid world of crisp, well-nurtured sound. Read full review


Kay-Ta — Arrival

July 21, 2016

One of the most sought-after musicians today, guitarist Kay-Ta, has emerged from the session shadows to explode on the scene with some great, refreshing jazz guitar work on his appropriately titled debut release Arrival. This is a recording showcasing just why the artist is so in demand as his lightning licks, smooth melodies, and a knack for incorporating such intricacies as those found in fusion, classical, blues, and rock circles shine throughout.

Bringing aboard such high-end talent as saxman Jackiem Joyner and keyboardists Nicholas Cole, Jonathan Fritzen, and Greg Manning, Kay-Ta treats each of these full-bodied tracks as though it were his only single. Each one bears its own might and appeal. Read full review


Count Basic – Sweet Spot

July 21, 2016

Here’s one that I simply and absolutely felt compelled to review. It was released in Europe a short while back before being released here recently. Still, this one could have been released a long while ago in Europe, and I still would have been driven to review it once I had gotten wind of it being released here in the States. After all, we’re talking about a jazz/pop/R&B/funk international icon, Count Basic. Remember them?? For those who don’t, this powerhouse duo gave us many hours of monumental grooves and had a huge presence on smooth jazz radio in the 90s. I actually thought that the group had disbanded. The lovely lead singer Kelli Sae had even gone solo for a bit. Well, whatever the case, here they are again, Sae and guitarist/composer Peter Legat, with Sweet Spot, driving the needle past measurable points with its hot dance and jazz grooves. Ah, how I have missed the dynamic of their music and the sexy Sae’s enticing vocals. Read full review


Euge Groove – Still Euge

July 17, 2016

Ahh, yeah. One of the funkiest and smoothest sax giants of our modern c-jazz time, Euge Groove, is back with another in his silky yet funk-laced fabric of quality smooth jazz entitled simply Still Euge, and that he is.

The CD captures the always innovative and creative Euge again giving his all to create a project that, while it bears all of the signature nuances that are his alone, bridges the old and the new. He says, “I like songs that tend to take on a life of their own.” That much is clearly obvious as he incorporates all of the finer elements of soul, R&B, and jazz along with a touch of sassy blues.

You hear so many of the textures that Euge employs here on tracks like the trademark slick and sauntering lead track “Twelfth Night” (with that signature great horn harmony), the snappy and B3 bluesy title track featuring the iconic and illustrious guitarist Chuck Loeb, the sweet, melodic, saucy romance-magnet “Another Perfect Moment” featuring our English gentleman guitarist Peter White (hmm…I wonder if the title wasn’t a subtle reference to White’s Perfect Moment album. If so, how cool!). Hang on to your seats on this one, ladies, and behave! Read full review


Will Downing – Black Pearls

July 17, 2016

This is one of my rare longer reviews…for good reason. After completely captivating followers as far back as the ’80s with his wonderful self-titled debut release and then fully ensuring that they would be followers throughout his career with many romance-filled subsequent releases, the iconic and world-renowned Prince of Sophisticated Soul vocalist Will Downing is back with a warm and highly honorable tribute to some of the greatest female R&B voices with his latest called Black Pearls (such a telling title). The album is chock full of the richness that was originally displayed by such artists as Phyllis Hyman, Chaka Khan, Deniece William, Randy Crawford, Cherrelle, and Jean Carne. Downing places his own majestic touch on these originals and, though they may be covers, you can easily feel him claiming them as his own while shouting gratitude to these ladies from the depths of his soul. Read full review


Mattias Roos – My Story

July 17, 2016

Mattias who, you ask? Another one of the finer keyboardists who just happens to make contemporary jazz his musical home, lucky for us. Hailing from Sweden, Roos is no stranger to the music scene as he has been performing since first learning to play at age 6. He began teaching music at age 16 and has performed with several great Scandinavian artists and has built quite the reputation in Swedish circles. Now branching out to capture the hearts and souls of American c-jazz lovers, he comes forth with My Story, an album of smooth and feel-good vibes that might remind one somewhat of Brian Culbertson, Bob Baldwin, and/or Nicholas Cole.

Tracks like the up-tempo Culbertson-like “Get Up,” the mellower “Dreaming,” which is so rich in melody, the sassy “Perfect Day” which carries that mid-tempo funk clout, and the mesmerizing “For You” fully introduce you to this Swede who obviously is bent on adding you to his following – and makes it easy to do so with full-bodied, classy style. Read full review


Steve Cole – Turn It Up

June 25, 2016

One thing I’ve always loved about saxman Steve Cole’s style is the way he presents his material – with such soul and meticulous care in phrasing and “packaging.” Here on his latest release Turn It Up, he teams up with multi-instrumentalist/producer/arranger David Mann (who, in my opinion, happens to be one of the absolute best horn arrangers around) to produce some quality horn work and melodies that will definitely stick with you.

Cole is one of those true standout artists who really intrigue me with their deep expression of love for this music via their respective instruments. In Cole’s case, the sax really does become an extension of him, and he brings that through loud and clear on this and all of his previous recordings. Read full review


Oli Silk – Where I Left Off

June 25, 2016

You can always count on one of our groovemasters from across the big pond to deliver the musical goods when the time is right – and the time is always right. This time, British keyboardist/composer/producer Oli Silk is the deliverer of some fine grooves as he releases Where I Left Off – which is so apropos since he does pick up the party where he left off with the tight Razor Sharp Brit album back in 2013.

Silk brings in a lot of familiar mega-talent on this one, including fellow Englishman and smooth jazz guitar icon Peter White, the always dapper and super-cool guitarist Nick Colionne, songstress Katie Leone, trumpet giant Rick Braun, the lovely flutist Althea Rene, and sax virtuosos Steve Cole and Phil Denny. Read full review