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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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Fabio Mignola — Encantado

Dec. 1, 2018

After almost a decade’s absence from the scene, guitarist/composer Fabio Mignola brings his exotic style of Mediterranean and Brazilian charm back to us with his latest offering Encantado, a project thick with the lure of Brazilian beauty with a smooth delivery that’s also laced with the equivalent of a good glass of Caipifruta.

Nothing here suggests a wild and crazy ride on a funk or R&B train, but true tropical music lovers will definitely identify with the easy and deliberate stroll of Encantado.

From the lively, appropriately-titled lead track “Cheer Up” to the slick and gentle title track to the melodic and romantic “Your Smiling Eyes” to “Brazilian Breeze” which invites you to feel that breeze to the jazzy and bright “Sweet Whim” to the catchy and easily adorable “Jacaranda” to another romantic goodie called “Silky Lips,” and beyond, Mignola paints an irresistible picture of the beauty of Brazilian music and everything resembling it. Read full review

 

Jazmin Ghent – The Story of Jaz

Oct. 31, 2018

The Story of Jaz, the cleverly titled new release from the lovely young saxtress with the killer smile, Jazmin Ghent, is another project full of sunshine, crisp grooves, and the kind of meat-on-the-bone c-jazz that gets the “engine” of most jazzers revved up in a hurry.

The album not only takes one on an eclectic musical voyage that clearly displays this young lady’s command of the genre, but it also literally chronicles that voyage on the inside cover of the CD. “Impressive” is an adjective that does very little to describe where she’s been, what she’s learned, and — most likely — where she’s headed. Read full review

 

Greg Adams & East Bay Soul — Conversation

Oct. 31, 2018

Trumpeter/composer/producer Greg Adams explodes on the scene again with his East Bay Soul band, delivering a refreshing, diverse set of grooves designed to appeal to the cool in you. With that slick, easy, melodic strut that has become the band’s signature, the new album Conversation is very much in fact a stirring conversation between the music and your soul.

Along with Adams, the smooth comes courtesy of saxman Greg Vail, bassist Dwayne “Smitty” Smith, guitarist Kay-Ta, vocalist Darryl Walker, and other fine contributors. Read full review

 

Nate White – Up Close

Oct. 31, 2018

Up Close, this third album from bassist Nate White, is truly a jazz/funk/soul aficionado’s dream. It’s an album full of thick, highly charged, well-produced grooves presented with the confidence and sass of one who knows this musical terrain well.

In case the name doesn’t ring a bell with you, White has shared the stage with many well-known, well-regarded  artists, including The Godfather of Neo-Soul Roy Ayers (who was instrumental in placing White on the musical map), Michael Henderson, the jazz quartet Gratitude, George Johnson of the Brothers Johnson, Reggie Calloway (former leader of Midnight Star), Chuck Loeb, Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp, Euge Grove, Phil Perry, Aubrey Logan, Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Gerald Albright, and the GRAMMY®-nominated, platinum-selling sax giant Dave Koz. With a resume like that, it’s no wonder why the sound you’ll hear on this project is so polished, refined, and yet often nitty-gritty-dirty with that funk persona. Read full review

 

Paul Hardcastle – Hardcastle 8

Oct. 18, 2018

As the first line of the inside cover says: So, here we have Hardcastle 8. Maybe that’s all that needs to be said. Hardcastle fans know the drill. You listen, the familiar, gripping groove washes over you – whether you’re just chillin’ at home, riding along the highway or coastline, or sippin’ champagne with your love bug – you tap your foot, you bop your head, you snap your fingers, you do whatever dance you do. That’s all part of the Hardcastle Effect. If you know or have experienced it personally, you know you never get over it. You’re hooked for life. It’s magical, exotic, beautiful, smoother than butter, and compelling. Paul Hardcastle has been the master creator of this groove going back too far for me to remember when I first became addicted. Read full review

 

Kayla Waters — Coevolve

Oct. 18, 2018

Not quite two years ago, we c-jazzers were treated to the eloquence and spiritually satisfying sounds of Apogee, the debut release from Kayla Waters, the gifted and personable daughter of renowned saxman Kim Waters. The album was a beautiful expression of spiritual and intellectual ascension via the handsome sophistication of jazz. Here with her sophomore release Coevolve, the comely pianist/keyboardist/composer excites and motivates with her artistic handling of jazz elevated.

Joined here by just a few guest artists on select tracks (including guitarists Freddie Fox and Nick Colionne, bassist Mel Brown, vocalist Shacara Rogers, and dad Kim), Waters weaves her magic with just the help of some nifty programming of musical accompaniment. She also wrote or co-wrote and co-produced the project, joined by her dad and producer/keyboardist/programmer/engineer Michael Broening. Read full review

 

Doug Jones — Crossing Lines

Oct. 18, 2018

Crossing Lines is the latest in the line of very fine recordings from saxophonist Doug Jones who simply continues to satisfy with his smooth and delectable blend of c-jazz grooves, led by his clear and passionate sax work.

This time around, the saxman offers an 8-track production where the average track time is about 5:00, providing you the listener with almost 40 minutes of deliciousness. Each track here is moving, soulful, full-bodied, and quite well-produced, starting with his cool and light “Watching the Sunshine” and continuing through with solid tunes like “1979,” “Cool J,” the strong and catchy title track that hosts a mean blues signature in with the mid-tempo cadence, “Zen Garden” (the title of this one just may be a bit deceiving as this has all the “fingerprints” of a good ol’ feel-good dance number), “Season Change,” a rather laid-back, slow & somber piece, “One Flight South,” and the closer “Hand Clappin’” which has that big band jive music feel to it — a “happy” tune. Read full review

 

Dave Sereny – Talk to Me

Oct. 18, 2018

The long-awaited follow-up album to Toronto-based guitarist Dave Sereny’s Take This Ride is finally here and appears to definitely have been worth the wait. The album, titled Talk to Me, is a full-bodied, clean project loaded with generously-laced jazz riffs, melodies, and nuances.

A touring veteran of multiple jazz festivals (which probably explains the long period between his solo recording projects), Sereny has drawn the admiration of many of his most seasoned and well-respected peers, several of whom have joined him on this slick, poppin’ album. Read full review

 

Darryl Anders AgapeSoul — Conversations

Sept. 22, 2018

AgapeSoul is the rock-solid ensemble of musicians assembled by veteran Bay Area bassist Darryl Anders. Conversations, this followup release to the group’s Believe In Love debut is one of the most polished R&B/jazz hybrids I’ve heard in a while.

Effective vocals by Zoe Ellis, Geoffrey Williams, Tommy Sims, Naté SoulSangar (Naté’s last name is so spot on – especially if you’re a veteran listener of soul singers — that I’d be surprised if it isn’t a pseudonym), and Ashling Cole give this eclectic and very rhythmic project that special shine that helps all good artists stand out among their peers. Adding to the charm of the album are great horn arrangements and appearances by the inimitable B3 organ and some bold synth work. Read full review

 

Jeff Lorber Fusion — Impact

Sept. 3, 2018

Now into his 41st year of banging out hit jazz record after hit jazz record, master keyboardist/producer/composer Jeff Lorber nails another great one with the Jeff Lorber Fusion’s Impact album — a year after grabbing his first Grammy win for the group’s remarkable work on its previous album Prototype.

Still doing it majestically with sidekick/key collaborator Yellowjackets founding member bassist Jimmy Haslip, saxman Andy Snitzer, and drummer Gary Novak, Lorber tosses in the fanciful guitar work of Paul Jackson Jr. and Adam Hawley, horn arranger and performer Dave Mann, and others to spice up a recipe that’s always kickin’ anyway. This is jazz fusion the way it was always meant to be. Read full review