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. The explosive style of drummer Jeffery B. Suttles has been the soulful energizer for artists as diverse as Donny Osmond, En Vogue, Chante Moore, Sheena Easton and, most notably, Taylor Dayne. He appeared in the film Coming to America and has worked with everybody from Quincy Jones to Teena Marie. His debut CD, Time to SuttleDown featuring the all-star lineup of Patrice Rushen, Ronnie Garrett, Eddie Miller, Alex Al, Larry Kimpel and Andre Delano was released in 2006 but, inexplicably, slipped through the Secret Garden net. However this wonderful collection that includes nine of Suttles original compositions plus one excellent cover deserves some belated attention. It’s quite simply one of the best contemporary jazz CD’s of recent times.
The opening cut, the sensational horn driven ‘A Run In The Park’, has an infectious melody and leaves no doubt that Suttles knows his smooth jazz. In fact Suttles repeatedly proves this throughout. The mellow ‘Ride Above The Clouds’ is wonderfully constructed around the synthesizer and keys of Monty Seward while ‘From The Other Side Of The Canyon’ is a slice of ‘in the pocket’ mid tempo contemporary jazz that features cool sax from Alexander. The albums only cover, the Taylor Dayne hit ‘I’ll Always Love You’ is replete with the rhythm and melody that categorizes the best in smooth jazz and another fine example of the genre comes courtesy of ‘The Sunrise’. This time its Bill Steinway on keys that grabs the attention and his contribution is also significant on one of the albums standout tracks, the seductive ‘Sweet Pleasures’. Moody in the extreme and anchored by Alex Al on bass it has haunting flute from Donald Hayes at its centre, an outstanding solo from Steinway and some serious percussion from Rafael Padilla.
Andre Delano steps up on sax for the rhythmic ‘In A Short Time’ and, injecting a smoky vibe that is reminiscent of Tom Scott, also features on ‘The Cheetah’. This is a track that shows off Suttles funkier side yet whatever the mood ‘Time to SuttleDown’ is all about the rhythm. The title cut is a case in point where, driven relentlessly on by the guitars of Wali Ali and Torrie Ruffin and held down by Suttles on drums, the tune is liberated first by an incredible vibe solo from Ndugu Chancler then by the sultry jazz piano of Patrice Rushen. It’s another of the albums many standouts but even better is ‘Springtime Breeze’. With Suttles and Padilla again generating some massively urgent percussion and an outstanding Rhodes solo from Rushen the result is almost indescribably good.
Time to SuttleDown is a must for any lover of the contemporary jazz scene. With every track Suttles makes a great statement on the drums and shows that as well as being one of the best sidemen around he can shine just as brightly as a leader, arranger and composer.Posted by Denis Poole at April 9, 2007 4:25 PM