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Cal Harris Jr. — Soulful

July 31, 2019

This well-produced, solid project, Soulful, by pianist/keyboardist Cal Harris Jr. sparkles with originality and character with a sizable emphasis on real c-jazz combined with just the right amount of R&B and funk to make it one of the best well-rounded albums I’ve heard to date.

Bringing along with him such contributors as the legendary keyboardist/producer/composer Jeff Lorber, bassist Mel Brown, saxman Lew Laing, and others who sport their A game, Harris puts on quite the display of eclectic, thick, full-bodied jazz grooves to put any c-jazz lover in the right mood at the right time.

Tracks of note for me here are the sassy and snappy lead track “Airborne,” the finger-poppin’ “Timeline” featuring guitarist Blake Aaron, the toned-down, laid-back, and melodic “Closer” featuring Ted Belledin handling the sax duties most effectively, the rhythmic and very jazzy “Grown Folks Business” with its hint of island groove (the track is aptly titled as it’s not of the garden variety of music geared toward the modern pop culture, if you will). There’s also the funky, mid-tempo Jeff Lorber-ish “The Neighborhood” featuring…who else?, the feel-good “Endless Summer” with its peppy strut that can make one envision a long, sunny summer day, the slow, very soulful “The Touch” with Belledin’s sax adding that special touch for the romantic in you, and the title track with its signature head-boppin’ jazz feel.

As one of Harris’ tracks infers, this album is definitely grown folks “business” as it just must be appreciated by those who appreciate the precision, the intricacy, sophistication, and class that music like this brings to the table. Get a taste of this one. – Ronald Jackson