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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Jeff Ryan — Embrace

July 13, 2018

As you have probably personally experienced more than once, there are debut releases from artists who show much promise and, with a little more focus and work, just might make it as a recognizable name in this business. There are also one-shot wonders who quickly fade away…and then there are those artists who simply blow off the doors upon entering the scene, their sound and style being so commanding and solid. New saxman Jeff Ryan belongs in the latter group. So taken was I by his debut release Embrace that I had to literally sit in my car listening until the last track, frozen in a satisfied awed state. Read full review


Dee Brown – Remembering You

July 13, 2018

It’s wonderful seeing guitarist dee Brown back on the scene again with his new release Remembering You, a cool dee Brown-style, adept, and jazzy project dedicated to the memory of his fiancée gospel singer Shaunia Edwards who passed away two years ago from an unexpected illness just as the loving pair was preparing for a summer wedding. Our sincere condolences are with Brown and his fiancée’s family.

Ordinarily, one might expect a somber, poignant recording in the wake of this sad news, but, as Brown says, “Shaunia was the reality of my dreams, a woman heaven sent to make me whole. Remembering You celebrates her life and our life together. It’s purposely an upbeat celebration, not a mourning. The meaning that I derived from this experience and a message I think everyone can relate to is that we should exalt those in our lives as well as remember those who are no longer in our lives for whatever reason.” A very inspiring perspective indeed. Read full review


Sharon Musgrave – Sha’s Archives

July 1, 2018

As artists who flirt with blends of R&B, Smooth Jazz, and new age/World music go, vocalist/composer Sharon Musgrave is one who, with her Sha’s Archives release, presents a beautiful eclectic blend in an unabashedly sassy and sexy manner. It certainly doesn’t hurt that her vocals are of top quality, as well. This album simply commands attention.

Easing into the album with a light, slow, and very melodic lead track called “Drag Me,” Musgrave then kicks it all into another gear with two up-tempo grooves, “Comfortable” and “Pull It Up A Notch” before interjecting a sexy mid-tempo mood called “I Chose You” between those grooves and the title track, then navigating to a slick, saucy number entitled “Favourite” — followed by the exotic “Blue Nile” with its nod to some Latin charm. Read full review


Marcus Miller – Laid Black

June 27, 2018

The indefatigable bassist/composer Marcus Miller Miller is akin to the jazz-funk version of The Energizer Bunny—he keeps going, and going, and going.

On his latest release, Laid Black, on which his wife Brenda is credited as Co-Producer and Project Coordinator, he returns to his self-described style of playing “funk on the top and jazz on the bottom” sinewy grooves. He wrote or co-wrote, as he artfully and customarily does, eight of the nine tunes. Read full review


Michael Franks — The Music in My Head

June 27, 2018

As clever and witty as ever, LaJolla, California’s own cherished wordsmith – Michael Franks — is back for his first album in seven years (and 18th album overall), entitled The Music in My Head. And it’s great to have him back.

Franks always has been gifted immensely with a command of the English language. Though he never studied music in college, he developed his incomparable penchant for words while a student at UCLA during the late ‘60s. He earned a degree in comparative literature as an undergrad before also earning a Master’s Degree. He was a teaching assistant in the Ph.D program in American Literature at the University of Montreal before teaching part-time at UCLA. Read full review


Michael Paulo – Beautiful Day

June 24, 2018

If you’re truly c-jazz aficionado, the name Michael Paulo should certainly not be alien to you. This prolific Hawaiian saxman has been at his trade for more than 35 years, has several solo releases, and has shared the live stage with many of the who’s who in the business — often humbly contributing to their sets as a side musician. A most gracious and admirable personality, he is equally as effective on sax as he again demonstrates here on his latest offering Beautiful Day. Read full review


Andrey Chmut — Smoothability

June 24, 2018

Smoothability is another high-steppin’ album from producer/guitarist U-Nam’s record label Skytown. It’s one that captures the jazz/pop/soul spirit of the guitarist and is presented by his latest label recruit, new Ukranian saxman Andrey Chmut, an artist who proves here to be of the high-caliber stock of saxmen with major promise.

Aside from a guest appearance by the iconic Bob James and another label recruit Valeriy Stepanov, I must admit that I was totally unfamiliar with the musicians accompanying Chmut here, but let me be the first to tell you that these guys absolutely kill it. From Chmut’s sassy sax to thick bass runs to in-the-pocket drums to lilting keys to solid vocals and beyond, there is plenty of hot, supercharged action going on here. Read full review


Dirk K – Blu Sky

June 24, 2018

Well, it probably doesn’t get smoother than this. Guitarist Dirk K is back on the scene with Blu Sky, an album of light and airy grooves guaranteed to transport you to Smoothville with his silky delivery and feathery, often bluesy, riffs.

Joined here on separate tracks by bassists Al Turner and Darryl Williams, Dirk K offers up delicious melodies and snappy rhythms as he strolls through the album with poise and guitar excellence. Read full review


Michael Walker — Daylight

June 24, 2018

Guitarist Michael Walker caught my attention several years ago with his debut release A Smoother You. It was silky smooth and reminded one of how crisp and soulful jazz guitar could be played. I somewhat likened his style then to the suaveness of Norman Brown and George Benson. The guitarist is back now with his latest release, a 6-track EP entitled Daylight. It’s yet another exercise in smooth with an enticingly refreshing approach to jazz sprinkled with R&B. Read full review


Sy Smith – Sometimes A Rose Will Grow in Concrete

June 18, 2018

This sweet R&B/jazz project from multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Sy Smith is about as refreshing a release as you could hope to experience in any genre. Rich with the influences of doo-wop, gospel, jazz, a touch of that island groove, narratives, stories, memories, and even poetic leanings, this free-spirited album, stylishly and thoughtfully titled Sometimes A Rose Will Grow in Concrete, will take you to places you may seldom visit in your musical journeys. Its silky delivery is guided by the satiny Smith vocals, and each song carries a heavy pointed presence and singular personality. Read full review