Smooth Jazz CD Reviews

Our reviews of various smooth jazz CDs. We also review certain Latin, World, & blues music releases. 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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Michael Lington – Silver Lining

May 10, 2018

One of the coolest and most solid saxmen in the biz, Denmark’s own Michael Lington, is back and, as usual, flaunting his own brilliant stylish way with a new release titled Silver Lining. The slick and soulful release touches on the blues, that Memphis groove, and the soul of the music that never seems to leave those of us who are true aficionados of real soul music. Lington has often told us through his music that he has a strong affinity for that southern soul flair.

With an abundance of that rich, clear, and expressive sax shine, Lington is joined here by guest artists guitarists Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics who also helped to immortalize the Candy Dulfer classic “Lily Was Here,” guitarists Paul Jackson Jr., Ray Parker Jr., bassists Alex Al and Freddie Washington, percussionist Lenny Castro, and a host of others. This is truly a can’t miss effort bearing all the markings of one of the most exquisite and deep-reaching music eras of our lifetime. Read full review


Nick Colionne – Just Being Me

May 10, 2018

Guitarist Nick Colionne, that Big Windy Cat, is back on the scene with that killer-cool wardrobe and singing Epiphone hollow body axe working his smooth melodies all over C-jazz Land.

Whatever floats your c-jazz boat can be found on “Nico’s” new release Just Being Me, including a solid jazz-infused cover of the late Marvin Gaye’s classic “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” taking one way back in the Gaye catalog.

With comrades keyboardist/producer/mixer/programmer/composer Chris “Big Dog” Davis and Pieces of a Dream keyboardist/composer/producer James Lloyd by his side, the classy guitarist also lets loose on such finger-poppin’ smooth gems as the sassy, strollin’ Lloyd-penned “Is This Love I’m Feeling,” the up-tempo Davis-written dance groove “Be Urself” (surely one to get the masses up out of their seats at live performances), and one meant for that midnight love: “Spend the Nite” (both the instrumental and vocal version – the latter featuring some silky lines from vocalist Buff (Tony) Burnette). By the way, it’s pretty cool how he incorporates that Benson “Breezin’ melody at the very end of the instrumental version. Read full review


Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning – Eirlandia

May 10, 2018

(World music/new age)

Eirlandia, the eight-track wonderfully melodic new album from the veteran contemporary Celtic music duo keyboardist/percussionist Jeff Johnson and flutist Brian Dunning (who also offers his talents on penny whistles), is a beautifully emotive piece of work. Its World/new age appeal is quite alluring and almost certainly built on the premise that music, if it is anything, is expression in colors, feels, and depth.

With 30 years of working together under their belt, this great reunion of musical minds bent on excellence brings us a project inspired by best-selling author Stephen R. Lawhead’s new Celtic fantasy novel, In the Region of the Summer Stars – Book 1 of the Eirlandia Series. Apparently, in this book, the story of beauty and the challenges it often faces are pitted against one another. Johnson says, “I truly enjoy creating music to expand upon and exemplify a good written story, like the books of Stephen Lawhead.” Read full review


Chris Standring — Sunlight

Apr. 21, 2018

For two decades, veteran English guitarist Chris Standring has been working his special concoction of jazz on c-jazz lovers everywhere. It’s been a cool, sassy, and funky ride, and it continues here with his latest release, Sunlight. The album highlights his signature suave and distinctive style and the reminiscently vibrant sounds of the UK acid jazz scene of the early nineties which saw the likes of the late guitarist Ronny Jordan rise to the attention of c-jazz aficionados. Read full review


Madoca — Illusion of Love

Apr. 21, 2018

While this name may not ring familiar to many, lovely Japanese keyboardist Madoca Kawahara is no stranger to the industry at all. She actually got her first taste of show business in 1993 when touring with Japanese national bands and also performing on NHK TV in Tokyo/ Osaka. Over the years, she has performed with several American Jazz/R&B bands in Tokyo/Yokohama, Yokosuka, which included some navy base and NCO clubs appearances. In 2003, she finally made the move to the U.S., where she settled in Atlanta, GA. Read full review


BillyRay Sheppard — Silk

Apr. 13, 2018

A short while back, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing bassist John Stewart of the hot new band Groove Frequencies. It was truly a fun-filled experience. He was to have been joined by the band’s saxman BillyRay Sheppard, but Sheppard was called away to perform at the last minute that night. Little did I know that he has a debut solo release entitled Silk which was released last year. Considering the band’s magnetic, full-bodied groove, I was more than interested in hearing this project. As if listening to my thoughts, his promoter mailed a copy of the release to me recently. To say I was totally pleased and surprised to receive it is an understatement. Read full review


Threestyle — Reasons 2 Love

Apr. 13, 2018

Ah, that smooth & funky strut from Threestyle is back with their latest release Reasons 2 Love. Here is another band that, in my opinion, is consistently solid, always capturing the pulse of the genre with pleasing melodies and that c-jazz infectious groove.

The lovely saxtress Magdalena Chovancova and guitarist Robert Fertl regularly seem to hold a winning hand at composing and producing some great c-jazz, as this, their 7th, release demonstrates. The feel and substance of their music permeates one’s soul with its feel-good presence and transcends physical geography as they send their musical magic across the world from Germany in quality fashion. Read full review


Nitish Kulkarni — Listen.

Apr. 13, 2018

(World music)

When you seek those quiet moments in your life, this World music project simply titled Listen. from composer/producer Nitish Kulkarni is a satisfyingly beautiful bouquet of melodic bliss – one that will prove to be just what a tired, troubled, or overworked soul needs. This is one of those albums where you must settle back and let the multiple moments engulf you from beginning to end.

A Canadian-born American citizen of Indian descent, Kulkarni embraced the nuances and wonders of World music at any extremely early age, staging his own imaginary concerts at age 2. From the time he was in 12th grade, he was actively recording in his home studio, producing dozens of his original compositions which he posted online. Read full review


David Garfield – Jazz Outside the Box

Apr. 5, 2018

This impressive and intriguing collection of tracks presented by contemporary jazz keyboardist David Garfield is a one-of-a-kind project. Jazz Outside the Box is primarily a straight-ahead album that occasionally combines the elements of this type of jazz with hints of pop/rock and blues to create what he touts as the first in a “Outside the Box” series featuring and honoring jazz greats from all over the world. Straight-ahead has always been at Garfield’s core, but he has now given in to the temptation to return “home.” Read full review


Lindsey Webster – Love Inside

Mar. 21, 2018

Here on her latest release Love Inside, vocalist Lindsey Webster puts her voice to work not only to entertain but to push a wonderful theme that focuses on the power of love, conviction, conscience, and introspection.

Joining the songstress here are renowned talents guitarist Norman Brown and trumpeter Rick Braun. Of course, they add sparkle to an already glowing album.

Each song here is a well-penned page from a narrative that is intended to rivet, compel, and convince. The lead and title track sashays about with a cheery and optimistic nod to love and invites one to, as she says, “take a moment to count your blessings.” It’s presented in a sassy, cool manner with a catchy hook. Read full review