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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Incendio – Summoning the Muse

May 25, 2019

Ahh, how exhilarating and refreshing it is to get to review another Latin-based world-fusion band. The dimension that this subgenre brings also brings such exoticism and mystique with it. Here, the band Incendio (which includes Jim Stubblefield, a guitarist I’ve reviewed on a couple of occasions as a solo artist) offers Summoning the Muse, an album chock full of rhythm, sunshine, passion, and melody.

In addition to Stubblefield, the band includes two other fluid and captivating guitarists – Jean-Pierre Durand and Liza Carbe – bot of whom also have established solo careers with recordings of their own. Read full review


Joseph Patrick Moore – Nevada Sun

May 17, 2019

Not only is bassist Joseph Patrick Moore a powerful, most competent bassist who can really lay that bottom down and loves to live in the land of the low frequency, he presents himself here on his latest release, Nevada Sun, as a one-man band, playing all of the instruments with no guest appearances by any artists whatsoever. Lots of artists are going this route today, but it’s the full-bodied, rich groove offered by Moore that’s really ear-catching.

Not fooling around with lead-in interludes of any kind, the bassist simply lights into this project with fire and grit and an awesome sense of confidence and swag, starting with the slammin’ title and lead track which quickly puts his thick bass skills on full display, follows that with the stompin’ and heavy “Movement of Light,” followed by an interesting touch of World music flair with “Iraqi Peace Song” complete with a Middle Eastern feel and chants (still moving in that up-tempo funky vein, however). Returning to the funk foundation he’s laid so well here, he offers a driving cover of Röyksopp’s “Remind Me” (you know the song from the GEICO caveman commercial, I’m sure) before slipping into a more sedate “Issa” which has a World feel , as well. Read full review


Cindy Bradley — The Little Things

May 17, 2019

It’s always a joy reviewing a new release from trumpeter Cindy Bradley. You pretty much already know that there will be some driving, pushing, solid, phat grooves coming your way. That’s just the way she rolls. Here on her latest release The Little Things, she again doesn’t disappoint as she leads with her trumpet to take us through another music wonderland and explores all the possibilities for making a track solidly a “cannot ignore” track.

With writer/producer Michael Broening at her side working his writing magic, the lovely trumpeter seduces, dazzles, and beckons one to join her in a dance (slow or up-tempo, take your pick) to celebrate c-jazz the way it was meant to be celebrate— from the soul. Read full review


Monty Q Pollard – All In My Head

May 7, 2019

With the cool softness of a crisp Caribbean or Brazilian breeze, keyboardist/pianist/producer Monty Q Pollard makes a grand entrance into the world of eclectic jazz and World music with his smooth and easy debut album All In My Head. The CD embraces a great deal of diversity and moods as he delves into everything from smooth c-jazz to Latin funk grooves to bossa jazz to soul jazz to fusion vibes. It’s all here, tied together neatly and completely as a statement on the majesty and seductive nature of good quality, grown folks music. Read full review


Mekiel Reuben – MR

May 7, 2019

Veteran saxman Mekiel Reuben decided to go another route with his new recording MR, pulling together never-released tracks from years ago, recording and programming them via his home Midi. A truly home-grown project. There is one re-release and one track written for a friend a while back. Very interesting that he was able to put a 2019 twist on material as dated as 1986!

There is bright, expressive work here that seems to defy any specific dating of the material. It’s as though the 1986 material, for example, could have been written last week. Read full review


Reza Khan —Next Train Home

Apr. 30, 2019

On this C-jazz site, I’m going to dare to call up the title of a Salt ‘n’ Pepa 90s rap classic, “Whatta Man,” to properly characterize this brilliant Bangladesh-born composer/guitarist/producer Reza Khan. I do so to illustrate his extremely impressive work ethic. His latest release Next Train Home has such a riveting story of dedication and commitment.

The album lays out such an eclectic train track to this “Home” to which he refers, combining elements of straight-ahead and contemporary jazz, as well as World and Brazilian magic. It is an album composed while Khan, a United Nations program manager, was on a six-week trek abroad including places like Mali and Uganda. It turned out to be so draining and exhaustive a trip that he suffered dehydration and had to be hospitalized. After convincing his doctors to allow him to recover in a hotel room rather than in a hospital environment, the imaginative artist penned the title track. Whatta man. Read full review


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