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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David Davis – Dig This!

Dec. 20, 2017

Connecticut-born saxman David Davis has been wrapping his smooth sound around the senses of this genre’s listeners since 1998. With eight previous releases under his belt, he now embarks on another classy journey with his latest Dig This!, a generous 15-track album with blends of smooth jazz, fusion, and sexy soul.

The grooves here are saucy, creative, and inundated with color and enchantment. Joined by violinist Christian Howes and guitarist Rohn Lawrence on select tracks, Davis uses innovation like the Pied Piper used his flute. Read full review


Catch the Groove – Smilin’ in Paradise

Dec. 8, 2017

Here’s a smooth sailing comfy EP of grooves that are so fitting for that perennial smooth jazz aficionado who loves the sassy horns, nifty guitar riffs, and genuine soul of the music. The EP’s entitled Smilin’ in Paradise, and the collection of musicians here call themselves simply Catch the Groove. Renowned guitarist Nils, bassist Darryl Williams, and percussionist Oliver Brown all put in classy showings on track 1 to get this party started.

With plenty of predominant horn voicings and arrangements, the project literally speaks for itself loud and clear. Read full review


Euge Groove – Groove On

Nov. 20, 2017

One of our most renowned groovesetters in the art of Smooth Jazz has been saxman Euge Groove, someone who’s taken the meaning of soul and funk to a new and exciting place each time he releases an album. His latest endeavor, cleverly titled Groove On (and when he is ever not “on?”) is another collection of self-penned goodies designed to touch that spot in your soul that always longs for this kind of artistic oomph.

Featuring a strong lineup of guest and support musicians alike such as Peter White, Philippe Saisse, Lindsey Webster, Lenny Castro, Tim Heinz, Tracy Carter, Cornelius Mims, and Jubu Smith, the sax groovemaster turns it on with charm, funk, and just general mood-setting charisma, belting out melody-rich offerings as only he can. He has come so very far from the day he stepped out on faith as a solo artist with what is now his classic and signature self-titled release which not only blew the doors off the genre with tunes like “Sneak-A-Peek” but established him as one who would be with us for quite some time and as one who could obviously handle groove in his sleep. Read full review


Carmen Pérez Røsnes – The Art of Love

Nov. 20, 2017

With the gentle delivery of wind-swept elegance and charm, this EP from lovely songstress/composer Carmen Pérez Røsnes — entitled The Art of Love — brings forth the soft sensuality of Latin appeal. It’s the stuff that deep dreams embrace as you sleep.

The exotic lead track “A Tear That Never Falls,” possesses a powerful romantic flair despite its hard-hitting message of unrequited love (“You can’t make somebody love you, You can’t answer a phone that never calls”). Sad yet most beautiful. Read full review


Justin Young – Blue Soul

Nov. 6, 2017

Saxophonist Justin Young’s new album, Blue Soul, is a neat package. It opens with “Always There,” which, at first listen, seems like it might be a steadily pulsing track but melts into a tingle of jingle bells and warm synth sweeps before Young’s horn rises through the mix and gets busy! This track beautifully highlights the warmth and delicacy that comes flooding through the rest of this album.

The second track, “Nothing But Love,” has a great horn section and choral backing that echoes a bit of that Earth, Wind and Fire vibe and frames Young’s delicate sax work and beautifully illuminates the chorus. Read full review


Philippe Saisse Trio – On the Level!

Oct. 12, 2017

Exploding on the scene once again to add another star to his illustrious musical career, the well-versed and sophisticated French keyboardist/composer/producer Philippe Saisse seduces with his new Philippe Saisse Trio project called On the Level!, a brilliantly eclectic blend of C-jazz, splashes of fusion, glimpses of island exoticism, big band horns, soul, funk, and that in-the-pocket vibe he carries around with him like his ID. It’s all here, proving that, yes, this is one consummate and artful artist.

While the group is called the Philippe Saisse Trio, there are actually four extraordinary artists here, and Saisse calls it a “trio plus one,” fittingly and cleverly so. The band consists of keyboardist Saisse, drummer Skoota Warner, bassist David Finck, and vocalist/percussionist Gumbi Ortiz — all masters and professionals with whom to be reckoned on a large scale. Read full review


Soweco — Keep On

Oct. 10, 2017

Swedish group Soweco’s latest release, Keep On, opens with one of those old skool “boof-dap’s” that we used to enjoy way back. You know, one of those drops that makes you leave your seat or quit hugging the wall. Makes you get to your feet ‘n’ go have a ball, do that two-step shuffle like you do once more!

This album could be a lost gem from the nineties. A time when soul music was a little more “composed” then it is today. Keyboardist Mattias Roos and drummer Peter Gustafsson put the Soweco collective together back in 2011, and here on their second release, they have crafted an album of good old-fashioned soul music. This album is packed full of delightful two-steps, gentle boogies and delicate, sad harmonies that make it hard to believe this comes from a group of Swedish musicians! Read full review


Will Downing – Soul Survivor

Sept. 21, 2017

The Prince of Sophisticated Soul, Will Downing, pours his seductive and charming style of soul all over your ears once again here with his latest gem Soul Survivor, a collection of sharp, clever covers and originals meant to captivate and woo in that familiar Downing way.

Teaming up on select tracks with the mega-talented and sultry vocalist Avery Sunshine, the queen of killer vocals Maysa, vocal giant and all-around good guy Phil Perry, household sax name Najee, and others, the vocal maestro takes us on another full-bodied journey of soul in the smooth lane with tunes like the lead and title track, the hot dance track “I Just Wanna Say Thank You,” “I’m Feeling the Love” with its sexy swagger and funk and those stellar Avery pipes, and the reminiscent Motown flow of which you are reminded with “Since You’ve Been Gone,” taking you back to those lovely duet years of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (though this is not a duet) and featuring some solid sax chops in the appropriate places. Read full review


Johannes Linstead — Azul

Sept. 21, 2017

Nuevo flamenco/World guitarist Johannes Linstead is again inviting us on another of his exotic and captivating journeys across the musical landscape he has come to conquer so well, this time with a beauty called simply Azul (“blue” in Spanish). With its flavorful and colorful flair, red should have been added to the color scheme for this one as the guitarist lights it up from an island perspective or as he offers up a new feel (for example, the style most will recall on Carlos Santana’s Supernatural album, in particular on track two’s “Cha Cha Chu,” which so reminds me of that super-hot “Smooth” from the Mexican icon’s CD. Linstead ignites that flame with the experience of one totally familiar with the value of hot guitar work to set a certain tone. The blending of hot electric oil with cool acoustic salve throughout the album is wildly refreshing. Read full review


The JT Project – Another Chance

Sept. 21, 2017

Saxman/flautist/composer/producer Todd Schefflin and keyboardist/bassist/composer/producer Jason Webb – aka The JT Project – have to be a source of pride for the Trippin N Rhythm record label. Not wishing to let their musical groove subside for even much more than a year (having released their previous release, Moments of Change, in March 2016), the duo now releases Another Chance, a silky ride along that cool stretch on Smooth and Charismatic Ave., located there in your town. You know the place. You’ve spent enough time there to recognize this familiar style of jazz and meet the sounds of groups like this. This is snappy, relaxing, and classy buoyancy coupled with casual rhythms that conjure up images of island breezes, walks along the beach, cruises along long, winding roads, and dining in jazz-influenced settings similar to N’Orleans, as well as chic New York lounges and Brazilian hangouts. Yep, it’s all here. Read full review