Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Throughout 2008, and almost unnoticed, the resurgent nuGroove Records has been building a roster of artists that, quite simply, is representative of the hottest up and coming smooth jazz talent around. If anyone is in any doubt about this then look no further than nuGroove’s brand new holiday sampler Grooves For The Season that is available exclusively from Circuit City. Not only does this exciting yuletide offering embrace the natural fit that contemporary jazz has with seasonal music but also shows off the remarkable line-up of ‘A List’ players the label now boasts.
In this respect there is none better than saxophonist Michael Lington and his sophisticated rendition of ‘Silent Night’. It has a vibe that transcends Christmas music and much the same can be said for the funk fortified ‘We Three Kings’ which gives guitar player Jay Soto the chance to provide a welcome reminder of why his radio hit ‘Slammin’ stayed on the chart for no less than 42 weeks. The ultra cool playing of Dee Brown fits his medley of ‘Hark The Herald Angels’ and ‘Sleigh-Ride’ to perfection while when Bob Baldwin segues ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Behold Him’ into one delicious combination, the result, unsurprisingly, is stunning.
Wonderful guitar from Steve Oliver provides a spine tingling take on the classic ‘Carol Of The Bells’ and Smooth Jazz Therapy favourite Gail Jhonson is at her usual immaculate best with ‘Come All Ye Faithful’. J Dee (he of ‘Trippin On The Edge Of Funk’) makes ‘We Three Kings’ sound appropriately groovy and its more sax, this time from the excellent Andre Delano, that lights up the superb ‘Jolly Old St. Nicholas’. Bass-man extraordinaire Michael Manson doesn’t disappoint with the beautifully sensitive ‘Angels Serenade’ while ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’ is in the funkily capable hands of shooting star Darren Rahn. He has been on of nuGroove’s most significant signings and in this respect he is in the good company of ex Down To The Bone front-man Shilts. In contrast to his usual ‘in your face’ style he handles ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ with great reverence and delivers what in most situations would be the album’s best track. However, just shading it is the ‘Christmas Bells Medley’ from the outstanding DeNate. Of course DeNate has been one of the finds of 2008 and here this fine duo of keyboard player Nate Harasim and vocalist Deborah Connors has never sounded better.
Grooves For The Season is the sort of album that makes you want Christmas to come early. Be good to yourself, buy the CD, light a roaring fire and enjoy.
For more go to www.thenugroove.comPosted by Denis Poole at December 7, 2008 6:44 PM