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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Nils — Play

Mar. 1, 2018

Nimble-fingered smooth jazz guitarist Nils has been so busy with a ton of productions and compositions for other artists that it’s hard to imagine that he’d have time to focus on and crank out a new release of his own, especially in under three years’ time. Well, he’s done it, and it’s top-tier quality…again. The masterful artist/composer/producer now struts out Play, a solid collection of originals with a couple of covers tossed in for good measure.

With his foot-tappin’, finger-snappin’ rockin’, bluesy, soulful, jazzy blend, the guitarist lays out some grooves that are not only infectious and attractive but deep-hitting. Read full review


Patrick Yandall – 10 South Riverside

Mar. 1, 2018

One of the most prolific, talented, and –in my opinion – somewhat unheralded guitarists in this jazz/smooth jazz genre is long-time artist Patrick Yandall. His smooth, textured sound and delivery have been recognized and appreciated enough for him to be featured in any all-star lineup of contemporary jazz artists anywhere. Yet, that distinction is not often bestowed upon him, despite having now cranked out 21 quality-filled albums and having received Grammy consideration in the “Contemporary Instrumental” category for his previous two releases. His music was once regularly featured on the former Weather Channel, as well. Read full review


Scott Allman — Elevated

Mar. 1, 2018

Keyboardist Scott Allman is back with a very tasteful collection of contemporary jazz, new age, and fusion to tantalize your senses. The new album, Elevated, wears many hats, all very telling and appealing in many ways.

Featuring here on select tracks saxmen Darren Rahn and Jeff Kashiwa, guitarist Allen Hinds, and bassist Mel Brown, Allman puts together a very palatable project that can be easily visualized with one’s mind’s eye as he takes us on a few travels with this diverse music, the paths parting at points and ultimately meeting up again where it all comes together to paint a picture of a simply colorful, complete collage of music. Read full review


Dan Siegel — Origins

Mar. 1, 2018

When you have over 20 solo albums and hundreds of other producing, arranging, composing and performing credits in your portfolio, I think it’s safe to say you have made quite a remarkable career out of music. Such is the case with veteran pianist/composer/producer Dan Siegel whose new release Origins has more than enough substance to satisfy any true jazz fan’s appetite.

With a great mix of jazz, blues, and Brazilian/Latin exoticism, Siegel takes you on a listening journey that becomes quite visual as his piano paints vibrant colors onto a far-reaching canvas of charismatic and expressive melodies. Read full review


Paula Atherton – Shake It

Feb. 17, 2018

Some contemporary jazz artists just seem to carry a very valid “can’t miss” aura about them. The lovely and talented saxtress/vocalist Paula Atherton is certainly one of them in this writer’s humble opinion. Out with her fifth release, Shake It, she does, in fact, shake up the groove, the soul, and just plain comfy vibes nestled in all c-jazz fans. Of course, if you’re a fan of hers, you have come to expect this as simply part of her beautiful and powerful music and character. Read full review


Brian Culbertson – Colors of Love

Feb. 17, 2018

As if keyboardist/pianist/producer/composer Brian Culbertson hasn’t already done enough to cement himself in the hearts, minds, and souls of more fans than I even care to estimate, the music wiz goes a step further with his latest release, which is dedicated to his wife Michelle with whom he’s just celebrated two decades of marriage. The album, released on Valentine’s Day, appropriately is entitled Colors of Love and features some of the sweetest soul-stirring acoustic melodies you could ever imagine. Mind you, while his piano lines are acoustic, he still offers his usual heavy and powerful trademark funk (albeit in a slower or more mid-tempo cadence), turning to synth bass, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond B3 organ, drum programming, and more. So, you get the best of both BC worlds here. Read full review


Rob Zinn – Walk the Walk

Feb. 17, 2018

Seldom do artists come along with a debut solo album one year, follow that up with the sophomore release less than two years later, and both turn out to be wonderful and filled to the brim with well-produced, well-conceived tracks. Seldom will I go out on a limb and proclaim that such an artist will be among the elite artists in no time flat. Well, such is the case with trumpeter Rob Zinn, an artist who clearly has a vision and a knack for catchy, delicious melodies, strong hooks, and a solid body of work. Read full review


Wayne Gutshall – Spicy!

Feb. 17, 2018

Hey, how about some “Bossa Love?” Yep, that’s my term for what you get to experience here. Saxman Wayne Gutshall has pulled together some great originals and awesomely interpretative covers for this album simply called Spicy! “Refreshing” would definitely be the descriptive word here. Nothing flashy, frenetically up-tempo, or necessarily funky (well, except for one hot bluesy track called “The Wayne Blues” featuring a smokin’ guitar solo by one Mitch Farber). This is just mostly an album of superb, exotic, laid-back, romantic grooves reminiscent of Antonio Carlos Jobim and other Brazilian music geniuses. Concocting his own additions to this pot of goodies, Gutshall has turned this production into the one hybrid you could find yourself in love with in no time. Read full review


Lin Rountree – Stronger Still

Feb. 7, 2018

Veteran groovemaker/trumpeter Lin Rountree is back at the helm of another solid production again, this time with Stronger Still, his latest collection of sassy, high-steppin’, jazz-filled tracks tailor-made to get your “engine” started.

Rountree’s consistently strong grip on what pushes the genre is, yes, stronger still as he struts through with standout trumpet melodies, runs, and sophisticated blends of jazz & R&B grooves.

Joined here by guitarists Adam Hawley and David P. Stevens, keyboardist Skinny Hightower, saxman Marcus Anderson, and vocalist Jessica Jolia, Rountree sets up a masterfully colorful collage that takes one on a wonderful odyssey of musical fluidity and charm. Read full review


Phillip “Doc” Martin – Pocket Love

Feb. 7, 2018

Since we have begun to accept for review recordings done more than a year ago, if the quality and attractiveness are there, and if we feel our audience would “miss out” if we didn’t share the material, I’m more than happy to offer my take on saxman Phillip “Doc” Martin’s 2016 release Pocket Love – an album with much more than a touch of richness.

A solid saxman born in Indiana and now residing in the Washington, DC, area and a most personable individual, Martin knows his way around a sax and a good melody. With a stirring presence in each tune, he proceeds to offer the kind of classy smooth jazz that we aficionados of the genre respect and love. This is take-notice material from the first note. Read full review