Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.
This time around The Secret Garden brings news of an artist who is putting his own particular take on the place where smooth jazz, Latin and pop styles merge. Described by former editor of Billboard, JR Reynolds, as a player whose music has an alluring hook, the performer is Chicago based Bryan Lubeck and the CD is Acoustic Vineyard.
Lubeck has become recognized as an artist of mass appeal with a hefty dose of talent and charisma. Although the newspaper and radio recognition he receives labels him as a ‘Smooth Jazz guitarist’ he considers that he is more than that. He calls himself a Smooth Jazz/Flamenco Guitarist because as a child he began a lifelong love affair with finger-style Latin (Flamenco) guitar yet, during frequent trips to Chicago, he came to identify strongly with the newly popular Smooth Jazz genre. He recognizes that over the last couple of years these styles have started to merge, a fact that has enhanced his popularity with Latin and Jazz enthusiasts alike as well as pop and adult contemporary fans.
His more distant past has seen him perform with Red Skelton, be part of the the University Singers who were voted Americas number one collegiate entertainment group and perform for both Nancy Regan and Barbara Bush. He was ‘Best Guitarist’ at the 1985 Elmhurst Jazz Festival and for a time was a performer and Assistant Director/Choreographer for Six Flags Show Productions.
Lubeck can normally to be found performing in the mid west through north eastern Illinois, northern Indiana and Michigan. He is a regular on Chicago’s Navy Pier, has appeared as part of WNUA 95.5 promotional events and has been featured artist on COSY 101.3 and WSJM News Talk radio. However he is now branching out in his quest to promote Acoustic Vineyard. He opened for Richard Elliot at a sell out concert in July and also opened the bill this year for 13 time Grammy Award nominee songwriter and guitarist Craig Chaquico.
With Acoustic Vineyard, Lubeck is an artist who is writing and performing his own material and shunning the seemingly obligatory covers that are too often used to engender radio play and pad out track listings. Track #1, ‘Harlequin’, already identified as the primary single cut from the CD, is really what the album is all about, mellow, restful and melodic but with a nice groove and top notch arrangement. The sax playing of Tim King adds depth and texture to Lubeck’s smooth guitar. Next up ‘Take Me’ is a cool number with a Latin beat enhanced by nice Hammond organ from Dave Maki while track #3, ‘My Desire’ is a smooth mover that is just full of California sunshine.
‘Port Adventura’ is more of the same yet seems faintly reminiscent of a soundtrack to a sixties movie while the groove based ‘Flamenco Island’, the only track not written by Lubeck, has also been identified as a possibility for a single. The collection goes on with smooth Latin rhythms and a smattering of single options. ‘Rhetts Island’ with a real flamenco feel is one such number as is ‘You’ve Got This Way’ a very warm, feel good number that is probably the album stand out. That said, all eleven tracks of Acoustic Vineyard fit together beautifully into a tapestry of smooth jazz and Latin music that will enhance the majority of record collections.
An interesting facet of the album is its title. The cover photographs have been shot at the Tabor Hill Winery and the title is obviously inspired by it. The executive producer on the project is Paul Landreck, also of the Tabor Hill Winery and The Secret Garden was interested to find that the winery is not located in the smooth jazz and wine haven of southern California but in the town of Buchanan, tucked away in the corner of south west Michigan. The winters certainly get cold there but apparently this does not effect the production of the wine that is reputed to be as smooth as Bryan Lubeck's music.
Check him out at www.bryanlubeck.com
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this months Secret Garden? Do you have a favorite Smooth Soul Survivor that you would enjoy being featured in a future edition? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.Posted by Denis Poole at October 17, 2004 1:43 PM