WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE!

The Sax Pack – Power of 3

April 27, 2015

Apr. 27, 2015

Obviously agreeing to make this an ongoing power jazz ensemble, saxmen Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters, and Steve Cole again return for their third release as The Sax Pack with Power of 3, an energetic display of rousing C-jazz.The Sax Pack

Marking the trio’s 10th anniversary and produced by them in conjunction with horn man David Mann (one helluva horn arranger, also, by the way), this one grabs the party groove by the horns and rides it for all it’s worth. Tunes like the lead track “Sooner or Later,” “Back in Style, and “Disco Here” are but three examples of what your soul and dancing shoes can expect here. Read More

Jim Adkins – The Journey

April 27, 2015

Apr. 27, 2015

Guitarist Jim Adkins has a wonderful new release called The Journey. I have been on the journey with this guitarist ever since I first heard his 2002 release Jim AdkinsTurning Point, a fantastic presentation of some of the best and smoothest compositions I’d heard to date. That CD still ranks extremely high with me, but I must say that this latest may well be his best display of hollow body and nylon string work thus far.

Turning another page with sweet melodies now becoming the sweetest of melodies, the album is, from the lead track to the finale, a true masterpiece in my eyes. Read More

Jeff Oster — Next

April 27, 2015

Apr. 27, 2015

With a haunting, surreal, and celestial feel to it, trumpeter Jeff Oster’s newly released project Next is an album of captivating melodies sure to command the attention of lovers of his cool style.Jeff Oster

Travelling down the road often used by fellow trumpeter Chris Botti, the pleasing nature and soothing quality of Oster’s trumpeter speaks volumes about the content and context of his material. If you close your eyes and allow the music to wash over you, you just may find many vivid images and messages floating and whispering before you.

Opening with the all-embracing beautiful title track featuring guitarist Nile Rodgers, the album glides and floats its way to the finale while gently escorting you on journeys across jazz, new age, and World terrains. Read More

Boney James — futuresoul

April 21, 2015

Apr. 21, 2015

Of course, you expected it. It was inevitable. The infinite groove culture of one of the most recognizable figures and architects of the contemporary jazz Boney James CD2genre would again offer up good reason why he still reigns supreme with the other kings of the genre. I’m referring to the one and only totally smooth and cool saxman Boney James who comes forth with his latest journey called futuresoul, another wonderful potpourri of colorful tracks and feels.

This release marks the sax giant’s 15th, and, while it shows a bit of his affinity for more contemporary influences of the current times (“Recently, I’ve been listening to contemporary artists like Tinashé, Sam Smith, and Ellie Goulding, and I’m inspired by the sound of their recordings.”), the magnetism of the earlier grooves of his Trust, Backbone, Ride, and Seduction projects is still most evident. Make no mistake about it, whether you’re a new recruit to the Boney sound or a vet from his beginning, yo quickly discover that the man can stroke a groove to lure anyone into his world of soulful bliss. Read More

Marc Staggers – Dream Catcher

April 21, 2015

Apr. 21, 2015

Anyone who’s ever heard the amazing vocals of veteran R&B/jazz crooner Marc Staggers is immediately struck by the influence that the late great Luther Vandross has had on him and his style. Suave, persuasive, and reaching into the depths of his — and your—soul, his music Marc Staggerscaptures and embraces instantly. Such is the case with his latest offering, Dream Catcher, a delightful collection of full-bodied soul with the purpose of at full throttle.

Truly another who should be on the lips of every R&B and C-jazz lover when discussing those who should be in the conversation of top-notch performers in these two genres. Employing the recording, mixing, and engineering expertise and general musical direction from his brother Reggie Staggers, this vocalist certainly has earned a place in that conversation. Read More

Blake Aaron – Soul Stories

April 11, 2015

Apr. 11, 2015

Guitarist Blake Aaron, definitely no stranger to the smooth jazz groove and how to manipulate it proficiently, is at it again with his latest release Blake Aaron CDSoul Stories.

Offering yet another of his stellar performances on guitar, he’s joined here by the likes of saxman/flutist Najee, guitarist Craig Sharmat, vocalist Spencer Day, and pianist/keyboardist Rob Mullins. Here also is the inclusion of one he calls his brother, the late great drummer Ricky Lawson whose work will never be forgotten by anyone who ever knew, heard, or met him. Read More

Julian Vaughn — Limitless

April 11, 2015

Apr. 11, 2015

One of the most stylish and creative lead bassists of this wonderful time in C-jazz is the rising star Julian Vaughn whose fluid bass runs and compositions always seem to hit that special nerve in you that’s reserved for the smooth groove. Here on his latest released, Julian Vaughn CDLimitless, he continues to serve it up in abundance.

Bringing in a few luminaries from his Trippin N Rhythm/Cutmore Records family (saxmen Lebron and Darren Rahn, keyboardist Nicholas Cole, and flutist Althea Rene) along with saxmen Marcus Anderson and Elan Trotman, the bassist loads up with heavy grooves and romantic seductions. Read More

iReedMan & Ms. Monét – Talk to Somebody

April 11, 2015

Apr. 11, 2015

I remain so very impressed by the quality of new collaborations by artists who really and truly have a knack for knowing what goes into the formula of Reedman&Monetgood jazz. An example is the collaboration of longtime saxman Joel C. Peskin (aka iReedMan) and the lovely Ms. Monét who offers mind-blowing nightingale-like 5-octave vocals in a manner that leaves one almost speechless. Talk about your Dream Team. Their new effort called Talk to Somebody deserves a standing ovation for depth, quality, eclecticism, and more. It’s music to get excited about. Read More

R James – Elizabeth’s Dream

April 11, 2015

Apr. 11, 2015R James CD

You know you’ve got a good woman when she can motivate you and drive you to create an album of potent C-jazz with a sprinkling of fusion, straight-ahead, funk, blues, and a whole lotta romance. Thank guitarist R James (and co-producer Paul Brown) for the fine melodies set forth here, but credit James’ wife Elizabeth with the spark he sought for this debut offering, appropriately titled Elizabeth’s Dream. Read More

Jazz Holdouts — Intuition

April 7, 2015

Apr. 7, 2015

We at TSJR will often receive requests to review older material (material 6 months old or older). While we tend to focus on new material, there are a Jazz Holdoutsfew older projects that simply warrant exception to our policy because of the attractiveness and originality of the material. Intuition by a group known as Jazz Holdouts is such an exception. The album was released in July of last year, and it would be an injustice to contemporary jazz fans everywhere to look past this well-structured gem.

With a silky sound, harmonies reminiscent of Take 6, Al Jarreau-like vocals, and tracks that are alive with emotion and cool, it’s a huge wonder why these guys haven’t emerged basking in the spotlight of the “newly discovered.” Read More