Outside of the several talented artists making smooth jazz charts today are upcoming artists. The first review from this column will be devoted to one of several artists who resides in the desert.,
Rocky Gordon, originally a Philadelphia transplant to Vegas, recently released his contemporary jazz CD under the Misatajo umbrella, a fairly new indie label.
The release, Alone In The Crowd, features a combination of dance, funk, and latin grooves on a variety of tracks.
Gordon displays his saxello-soprano sax virtuosity with great warmth and a solid tone, which includes some fine bop-like ideas throughout each of his solos on this album.
The Great Escape, To Yourself Be True, the only tune where the artist plays alto sax, and The Dream Messenger, stand out as the tracks most applicable for radio play, with memorable hooks and a strong concept from the arrangements. Tom Schuman’s production is complimentary throughout the first two mentioned. Schuman also lends his production expertise on the title track, Alone In The Crowd, with a nice understated solo. Although I would have preferred a slightly more aggressive side to Schuman’s solo effort based on his ability to “deliver the goods” technically and creatively.
Nuovo Strada Di Spero, which in Italian means New Street Of Hope, has a very Sergio Mendes Brazilian feel, accompanied by real and synthesized background voices, with a very well stated melody.
A Fresh Start is the most sophisticated chord structured composition, and is the best example of what could be described as “contemporary” in jazz.
The musicianship and production are solid, although at times it feels a little too slick, as many projects tend to sound these days.
The only composition not written by the artist is a cover of Sarah McLachlin’s hit, Angel, which seemed to drag on about a chorus too long, and the only track which the CD could have probably survived without.
All in all, Gordon is a talented composer and saxophonist who has a niche that could establish a place in contemporary jazz in time.