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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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Douyé— Quatro (Bossa Nova Deluxe)

Apr. 15, 2019

The lovely Nigerian songbird we know as Douyé has decided to take an off-ramp from the highway of smooth/contemporary jazz and lend her delicious vocals to the world of bossa nova/samba with a touch of straight-ahead jazz leanings. Following the path that a few other c-jazz artists have taken (Patti Austin comes to mind), the songstress, through this latest album Quatro (Bossa Nova Deluxe), demonstrates that she is by no means boxed in by any genre and wishes to spread her wings and soar to new horizons. Read full review

 

The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman – Open Road

Apr. 12,, 2019

Russ Freeman’s creative imagination is unleashed again here on The Rippingtons’ 23rd album over a span of 3+ decades. The guitarist/founder/composer/producer says of the group’s latest endeavor Open Road, “The concept of Open Road took shape when I realized we had perhaps run out of pavement for the old way of thinking, but there were limitless choices to make about the future. I went back to basics in some ways, focusing on what energizes me the most – great melodies, dynamic arrangements and virtuoso playing. But there are a lot of incredible new technologies I wanted to leverage as well.” That is all very apparent from your first listen to the album. Read full review

 

Phillip “Doc” Martin — Colors

Apr. 12, 2019

One of the more impressive saxmen in the c-jazz business might well be one who’s not necessarily on every jazz fan’s radar despite having been doing his soul shakin’, body groovin’ thang for a couple of decades. I’m referring to Phillip “Doc” Martin. Practicing dentistry by day, this charismatic doc has managed to simultaneously carve out a musical career that simply commands attention from all truly who appreciate good quality contemporary jazz.

Martin’s latest offering, Colors, is a smooth, spunky, and yes, colorful trip through this wonderful genre we jazzers call home. Keeping everything nice and tight and definitely in the pocket throughout the album, Martin delivers taste at every turn. With its diverse mix of rhythms and feel, the album encompasses all that’s good about music and embraces that feel-good vibe from track 1 on. Read full review

 

Lebron — Undeniable

Mar. 29, 2019

Saxman Lebron Dennis (aka Lebron) wails his way back onto the scene with a solidly soulful, sensuous, and, at times, driving new release entitled Undeniable, a potent blend of R&B and c-jazz at a top-notch level. Never losing that confident and sassy swag that comes with the genre when correctly approached, Lebron doubles down on just what shakes this genre to attention each and every time.

With the majority of grooves co-written by him, Michael Broening, and Matt Godina, Lebron comes to this party fully prepared to make it last a lifetime. In addition to Broening and Godina, the saxman gets some quality help from the likes of bassist Mel Brown, guitarist Freddie Fox, and popular trumpeter Cindy Bradley. One pretty tight lineup, if you ask me. Read full review

 

Johnny Britt – So Hot

Mar. 29, 2019

Here we have the polished and soulfully colorful trumpeter Johnny Britt gracing the smooth jazz/R&B community with his latest release So Hot, a snappy and feel-good release of original compositions designed to set just the right moods for the groovester in all of us.

A little about the charismatic trumpeter who brings with him the expressive narrative of one deeply steeped in the jazz culture:

Early on, Britt started to delve deeply into jazz and began meeting some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world — Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Cat Anderson, Milt Jackson, Richard Williams, Woody Shaw, Benny Bailey, The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Steve Lacy, Archie Shepp to name a few. He worked diligently as a jazz/ classical trumpet player. Read full review

 

John Novello – Good to Go

Mar. 29, 2019

Veteran keys/Hammond B3 master John Novello is back on the scene creating some jazzy feel-good, some bluesy feel-good, and some funky feel-good vibes all over this album he calls Good to Go. Yeah, after a listen, I think you’ll agree with that title as the album shoots out of the starting gate in typical grab-you-by-the-ears-and-soul Novello style. The album spells out eclectic in sure fashion.

Offering such goodies as the interesting, at times rather fusiony lead and title track featuring saxman Eric Marienthal; the heavy-steppin’ bluesy “Skin In the Game” featuring guitarist Adam Hawley and that tell-tale B3; the upbeat, Latin-tinged, jazz fusion-laced “Thanks (For Being You);” the sweetly romantic, soulfully bluesy “Love Affair” featuring guitarist Chris Standring; a flavorful up-tempo c-jazz thang featuring saxtress Jazmin Ghent; and a straight-ahead bluesy nod to Charlie Mingus as Novello steps out on “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” Read full review

 

Brendan Rothwell — Sentiment

March 13, 2019

Sentiment, the 2nd release from Canadian bassist Brendan Rothwell, shows Rothwell’s commitment to enhancing the art of coloring the bass as a lead instrument, thickening his distinctly fat sound with more expressive solid riffs and melodies. He’s also expanded the number of tracks from his 7-track Time On My Hands debut to the 11-track artistic endeavor offered here.

Citing the great Miles Davis’ 1986 Tutu album, featuring bassmaster Marcus Miller, as the trigger and driving force for his decision to play the bass, Rothwell represents advocates of the low frequency well and with a load of confidence. Read full review

 

Bill Cornish – Waking Dreams

March 13, 2019

The very prolific pianist/keyboardist Bill Cornish is most impressive not just as a c-jazz artist but as one who incorporates so many other genres in his music (e.g., rock, funk, orchestral, and World fusion) in his projects. He is also a member of the fusion group The Odd Get Even. So, to say the man embraces music in general would certainly be clearly stating the obvious. Add to that the manner in which he applies such eclecticism to his material, as is the case on his latest release Waking Dreams, and you’ve got the consummate musician and some very impressive work. Read full review

 

Norman Brown — The Highest Act of Love

Feb. 24, 2019

Clearly, no one has a better grasp on the power of contemporary jazz in the hands and soul of one who understands its very concept and appeal than the one and only guitar virtuoso Norman Brown, and he demonstrates that on his latest release The Highest Act of Love. Flowing with fluid melodies, pronounced spirituality, and masterful chops, the album puts on display why the personable Brown stays atop the world of c-jazz and is so loved. Even the masterful guitar icon George Benson has given Brown his stamp of approval as truly among the best in the business, but then, we all know that, don’t we? Read full review

 

Rod Tate – Sunshine & Lemonade

Feb. 24, 2019

Veteran indie saxman Rod Tate has been a satisfying force in jazz for about two decades now, finding a home in c–jazz, R&B, and gospel to the delight of so many. Here with his latest release Sunshine & Lemonade, the artist offers velvety smooth melodies and rhythms and incorporates a bit of that bossa nova touch as he embraces eclecticism in a way that only one with a diverse background and a real handle on the genre can embrace it.

From the catchy lead track “Sea Breeze” to exotically jazzy tracks like “Bossa De Amor,” “It’s All Good,” and “Revived” with their island rhythms – some subtle, some not so subtle–to romantic, whispery sweet tunes like “St. Louis Nights” and the soulful “Until Next Time” to the finger-poppin’, head-boppin’ “Road Trip” and “Cool With Me,” Tate provides all you want in a jazz environment, touching on all of the savory elements that make jazz what it is today. Read full review