Here is Gregg Karukas (a native of my neck of woods ) tantalizing us with the mellower side of his superb keys work with help from so many notables that the studio probably needed no electrical light—just the glow from this array of talent. Needless to say, the keyboardist himself is here again with all of the keen smoothness that he’s always embodied.
GK (guess what that stands for and you get a lollipop, kids!), in my opinion, is considerably more laid-back than, say, his funkier “Looking Up” album. Nonetheless, it only speaks to the tastes and versatility of the man who touts this vibe of smooth jazz so well.
“Manhattan,” the lead-off track is a perky yet somewhat “quiet” little gem set in a moderate tempo with nifty piano runs, while “Napa Road” comes at us in a snappy up-tempo setting with melodic runs and bright horns featuring world class trumpeter Rick Braun & the cool of saxman Michael Paulo. The style is definitely typical Karukas. “Floating in Bahia” does truly float lazily and seductively and hints of an earlier melody – I’m thinking mostly of the George Howard version of “Love Will Find A Way,” just slower and “easier” here. This cuddly piece features Braun and guitarist Ricardo Silveira.
The track, “Wildwood,” brandishes an up-tempo and swinging mood with authoritative sax work from Paulo. A tune of special note to me is the rhythmic, very samba, and very jazzy “Jamba Samba” with Silveira on guitar and Luis Conte on percussion just settling into one of those grooves that lets you know they would have been comfortable right there all day and all night. “Coyote Party” is perhaps the most like a “party” on this cozy and reflective album. Its bluesy yet popping rhythm and melody are quite effective, as guitarist Paul Brown jumps in, adding his special concoction of spice to the tune.
If you like Karukas in a mellow mood (or mellower mood, considering that this is already a pretty laid-back artist), this is just the stuff for what ails you. Whether he is going all out in a funky setting or just tickling the ivories as you slip into a delicious state of oblivion, he remains on top of his charming and fluid game.Posted by Ronald Jackson at April 11, 2009 5:26 PM