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.

Taking you from an island setting to a club dance floor is no big feat for this master of the instrument that you don’t often hear in the forefront (save Roy Ayers, Lionel Hampton, and a few choice others). In addition, this is a very well-produced eclectic CD which merges smooth jazz, Latin, island grooves, R&B, and some pretty good & gritty blues.
The sound is thick and soulful, and Raybine’s vibes do a wonderful job of adding great color to the project.

Tracks of note for me on this generous 15-track album include the soul-laden “Kiss Me,” the blistering hot blues jam “Cool Drinks,” the mellow, in-the-pocket “Kickin’ Back,” the Latin sizzler “Salsa Verde,” more hot blues on “What’s Wrong With You Baby” featuring some effective vocals from Camille Metoyer Moten, the deliciously relaxing “Coral Breeze” which paints that lovely scene of crashing waves and sun-drenched white sands between the feet of you and your lover as you stroll along to the impressive sax work of one Stan Harper, the enticingly lovely “Illumination” featuring Chad Stoner on sax, and the one track that is truly the stand-out here: “Bad Kat Karma” which features the Westside High School Concert Jazz Band of Omaha, NE. This latter track should offer hope and inspiration to any aspiring young musician as this group of young people display so much presence and skill as they pull off the first actually funky and soulful big band sound I think I’ve ever heard. Innovation and talent abound amid great horn arrangements and solid rhythm.

All in all, this is eclecticism at a very high level. While having several months under its belt now, it is still worth a good listen. I’m sure you will find it worth the time you took to check it out. – Ronald Jackson