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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.

The blend of Latin rhythms, jazz melodies, blues themes, and soulful vocals is approached in a manner that lets you know that this project was well thought-out before the first notes were recorded in the studio. A lot of this will call upon you to think of the visionaries of an earlier era. While not your typical smooth jazz undertaking, it may still take you to a satisfying place where good, eclectic music is the order of the day. – Ronald Jackson