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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Greg Chambers – A New Day

June 13, 2018

One artist who truly keeps the “smooth” in c-jazz relevant and afloat is saxman Greg Chambers whose steady, gliding, and melodic style is always infectious and so good for the soul. His latest release A New Day is proof positive that the man keeps the flow of this type of alluring jazz flowing freely in his veins.

Dedicated to his wife and the newest addition to his family – baby boy Owen (huge congrats, by the way) – the album is comprised of a solid arrangement of all original gems, each glowing with its own energy. Read full review


Basia — Butterflies

June 4, 2018

World-renowned jazz/pop vocalist Basia is back with her latest offering Butterflies. Full of eclecticism that includes jazz, pop, Latin, and soul, always staying close to the jazz base, the album finds the vocalist enlisting an impressive lineup of talent to dance with her through this bright and rhythmic album.

In addition to the White brothers (the iconic guitarist Peter and his younger brother keyboardist Danny – Basia longtime partner and collaborator), there are contributions from saxophonist Paul Booth, who brings a mighty sax soul presence, and the most impressive Frederic Chopin University of Music Big Band which adds a dimension of flavor and sophistication that handsomely enhances this already swaying, colorful project. This is stuff for serious jazz and fusion lovers who appreciate the rich hybrid form of the genre. Read full review


Richard Noll – Peaceful Being

June 4, 2018

(World music/new age)

And now, let’s venture off to the wondrous, calming land of new age/World seduction and exoticism, to a world of relaxation, communing with the spirit, and reconnecting with the elements of this wondrous life we have been blessed to enjoy, especially in these trying times. Enter multi-instrumentalist Richard Noll and his debut solo release Peaceful Being.

As is stated on Noll’s website,

“Peaceful Being is a collection of 8 soothing, meditative songs to inspire, uplift and nourish the listener. These songs can be supportive during times of reflection and inner process, as background for yoga, meditation or other daily practice, during massage or other bodywork sessions, to create a meditative energy for groups, or be offered wherever calm and spacious music would be a gift.” That.
Read full review


Richmond Punch — Finally

June 4, 2018

Violinist Richmond Punch may not register as a c-jazz household name to many c-jazzers, but his new release Finally (actually, his mostly secular debut as he does have a gospel covers CD) is a decent project with a lot of cool and snap.

The album puts forth a great effort to incorporate elements of jazz, gospel (his obvious gospel roots shine through quite plainly in this endeavor), rap, and soul. His skill as a violinist is evident, and his style is rather convincing.

The lead and title track is a popping track that should be a radio single that easily makes it to and up the charts. Subsequent tracks like “Crash,” “Holy War,” “Voyage,” and “Sorry” should further serve to convince you that here is an artist who could be on his way into your library and onto your musical radar. Granted, if rap is not your particular interest (I personally was not overly impressed with the “Superman” tracks, although the two tracks certainly have a lot of sass and swagger), your tendency to tune out here may kick in…until you listen closely to what other grooves he is capable of creating. There is potential here, there is promise here, and there is presence here. Read full review


Michael Lington – Silver Lining

May 10, 2018

One of the coolest and most solid saxmen in the biz, Denmark’s own Michael Lington, is back and, as usual, flaunting his own brilliant stylish way with a new release titled Silver Lining. The slick and soulful release touches on the blues, that Memphis groove, and the soul of the music that never seems to leave those of us who are true aficionados of real soul music. Lington has often told us through his music that he has a strong affinity for that southern soul flair.

With an abundance of that rich, clear, and expressive sax shine, Lington is joined here by guest artists guitarists Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics who also helped to immortalize the Candy Dulfer classic “Lily Was Here,” guitarists Paul Jackson Jr., Ray Parker Jr., bassists Alex Al and Freddie Washington, percussionist Lenny Castro, and a host of others. This is truly a can’t miss effort bearing all the markings of one of the most exquisite and deep-reaching music eras of our lifetime. Read full review


Nick Colionne – Just Being Me

May 10, 2018

Guitarist Nick Colionne, that Big Windy Cat, is back on the scene with that killer-cool wardrobe and singing Epiphone hollow body axe working his smooth melodies all over C-jazz Land.

Whatever floats your c-jazz boat can be found on “Nico’s” new release Just Being Me, including a solid jazz-infused cover of the late Marvin Gaye’s classic “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” taking one way back in the Gaye catalog.

With comrades keyboardist/producer/mixer/programmer/composer Chris “Big Dog” Davis and Pieces of a Dream keyboardist/composer/producer James Lloyd by his side, the classy guitarist also lets loose on such finger-poppin’ smooth gems as the sassy, strollin’ Lloyd-penned “Is This Love I’m Feeling,” the up-tempo Davis-written dance groove “Be Urself” (surely one to get the masses up out of their seats at live performances), and one meant for that midnight love: “Spend the Nite” (both the instrumental and vocal version – the latter featuring some silky lines from vocalist Buff (Tony) Burnette). By the way, it’s pretty cool how he incorporates that Benson “Breezin’ melody at the very end of the instrumental version. Read full review


Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning – Eirlandia

May 10, 2018

(World music/new age)

Eirlandia, the eight-track wonderfully melodic new album from the veteran contemporary Celtic music duo keyboardist/percussionist Jeff Johnson and flutist Brian Dunning (who also offers his talents on penny whistles), is a beautifully emotive piece of work. Its World/new age appeal is quite alluring and almost certainly built on the premise that music, if it is anything, is expression in colors, feels, and depth.

With 30 years of working together under their belt, this great reunion of musical minds bent on excellence brings us a project inspired by best-selling author Stephen R. Lawhead’s new Celtic fantasy novel, In the Region of the Summer Stars – Book 1 of the Eirlandia Series. Apparently, in this book, the story of beauty and the challenges it often faces are pitted against one another. Johnson says, “I truly enjoy creating music to expand upon and exemplify a good written story, like the books of Stephen Lawhead.” Read full review


Chris Standring — Sunlight

Apr. 21, 2018

For two decades, veteran English guitarist Chris Standring has been working his special concoction of jazz on c-jazz lovers everywhere. It’s been a cool, sassy, and funky ride, and it continues here with his latest release, Sunlight. The album highlights his signature suave and distinctive style and the reminiscently vibrant sounds of the UK acid jazz scene of the early nineties which saw the likes of the late guitarist Ronny Jordan rise to the attention of c-jazz aficionados. Read full review


Madoca — Illusion of Love

Apr. 21, 2018

While this name may not ring familiar to many, lovely Japanese keyboardist Madoca Kawahara is no stranger to the industry at all. She actually got her first taste of show business in 1993 when touring with Japanese national bands and also performing on NHK TV in Tokyo/ Osaka. Over the years, she has performed with several American Jazz/R&B bands in Tokyo/Yokohama, Yokosuka, which included some navy base and NCO clubs appearances. In 2003, she finally made the move to the U.S., where she settled in Atlanta, GA. Read full review


BillyRay Sheppard — Silk

Apr. 13, 2018

A short while back, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing bassist John Stewart of the hot new band Groove Frequencies. It was truly a fun-filled experience. He was to have been joined by the band’s saxman BillyRay Sheppard, but Sheppard was called away to perform at the last minute that night. Little did I know that he has a debut solo release entitled Silk which was released last year. Considering the band’s magnetic, full-bodied groove, I was more than interested in hearing this project. As if listening to my thoughts, his promoter mailed a copy of the release to me recently. To say I was totally pleased and surprised to receive it is an understatement. Read full review