WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE!

Mark Allen Felton – Soul Real

June 11, 2019

This is my first exposure to Chitown saxman Mark Allen Felton who’s actually been on the scene since 2002 when he recorded his first album, a gospel production called Gospel Stroll. Since then, he’s released 4 other albums (including this one) ranging in style from Gospel to R&B/funk/jazz, tossing in a bit of the hip hop flavor on his latest Soul Real release.

With a clearly diverse style, Felton’s creative and powerful approach to soul-deep grooves is equally as moving as his style. This is what defines eclecticism with oomph and soul.

Felton dives into this latest endeavor with undoubtedly everything he has (and that’s a lot), combining strong and smooth melodies with memorable hooks and swagger.

Tracks that simply resist being overlooked are the catchy lead track “Gritty City” with its interesting timing and in-your-face grit, the slick and full mid-tempo “Ooo Wee” which offers some becoming vocals by one Jesse Campbell, the “let’s party” funky vibe of “Let’s All Have A Good Time,” this time with endearing vocals from Dee and Brittani Cole, another infectious jazz/hip-hoppish mid-tempo funky jam called “Apple Pie,” the high-steppin’ “Get Up!,” delivered, as much of this album is, in an almost laid-back mid-tempo funk-laden cadence (and maybe this approach is what attracted me from the beginning), a heavy dose of the jazz/hip-hop groove with the rousing “To Da Flo,” and more. Oh yeah, this saxman has his hand on the beating heart of C-jazz as it exists now.

Not disappointing in any way from track one to the silky title and final track, Felton has a winner in my eyes without ever even having to go strictly uptempo or frenzied in any way. A smooth, deliberate, and funky cadence throughout delivers some of the best and original compositions you could hope to add to your collection of quality music. Have a taste. — Ronald Jackson