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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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


Marcus Slim Shaw — Choice

Mar. 21, 2018

This debut release from bassist Marcus Slim Shaw, entitled Choice, is a great exercise in incorporating the best in R&B, funk jazz, and fusion jazz grooves to create a hybrid jazz project with legs. The title of the album is quite apropos as Shaw certainly offers you a plethora of options as you hear all of the aforementioned elements not combined in each track but standing on their own on individual tracks.

If you’re seeking R&B, there are exclusively R&B tracks like “Ordinary Day,” “Can’t Get Enough,” “Missing You,” “Your Love” and “Breathe.” How about some good ol’ funk jazz? “Bass in Your Face” and “Why Bass” are your tracks. If you’re seeking that oh-so-familiar and unmistakable smooth jazz vibe, there’s the lead and title track. Want a helping of fusion with your funk? Try “Interlude.” Read full review


Ricardo Bacelar — Sebastiana

Mar. 21, 2018

Here is a rather intriguing undertaking by pianist/composer/arranger Ricardo Bacelar who traveled from his Brazilian home to Miami and assembled an ensemble of Latin American musicians to honor the roots of Brazilian music while cleverly incorporating each musician’s unique culture on this jazz-centered album entitled Sebastiana. It’s an album of distinct taste, class, and sophistication and does capture the colorful characters of both jazz and Brazilian exoticism. Read full review


Tony Craddock, Jr. & Cold Front – H2O

Mar. 7, 2018

Saxophonist Tony Craddock, Jr. and his band Cold Front have been providing live quality smooth jazz for the Washington, DC area for quite awhile now. Now issuing his latest recorded release H2O, he delves a bit deeper into his light and airy jazz repertoire to offer more new and classy tracks along with interesting and impressive covers.

Craddock’s style is not of the in-your-face variety but rather of a soothing, caressing, and gentle approach. Here, he offers a subtle touch of eclecticism with tracks like the light, samba-kissed “Irony,” the easy “Living Water” featuring guitarist Ken Navarro, and a very creative cover of “Amazing Grace” featuring the iconic Kirk Whalum and a clever jazz/blues twist to the classic spiritual. Another smart interpretation is that of “Can You Stand the Rain,” and an inspiring up-tempo “Sunrise” featuring the strong, attractive vocals of Ashli Rice. Read full review


Marion Meadows – Soul City

Mar. 1, 2018

Sometimes, when listening to a superior artist with superior skills in playing, writing, and in firm acuity, I can get so lost in the magic of it all that I become at a loss for words to describe the level of awe the artist inspires. There are only a few in my world, and veteran saxman Marion Meadows has been one for decades. Is that what it takes to be such a consummate master – years at this? Maybe, but this cat started out in the strong lane back in 1992. Here with his latest and 14th offering Soul City, he again simply dazzles, mesmerizes, and commands the respect only one who lives this stuff can garner. Read full review


Groove Frequencies – Groove Frequencies

Mar. 1, 2018

Now, here’s a ‘Hey!” CD. This sophomore and self-titled release from a group of powerfully adept musicians calling themselves Groove Frequencies is about as hot, funky and loaded with great contemporary jazz/R&B grooves as you could ever want.

A very refreshing and full-bodied release catering to the smooth in you, it features the group’s bassist, John Stewart, who also wrote and produced this fine project, saxophonist BillyRay Sheppard, guitarists Tim Perry, Parris Spivey, and Ryan Haynesworth, drummer Jay Williams, and keyboardist Dawoud Said. Stewart also doubles on keys on several tracks. Read full review