December 20, 2009

Brian Hughes - No Reservations

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Brian Hughes No Reservations is the excellent new live DVD by one of contemporary jazz’s finest guitarists. Featuring an all-star band it was recorded at one of my favorite venues, Spaghettini Grill & Jazz Club in Seal Beach, CA and includes some real gems from Hughes notable discography. In fact he delves deep for thirteen cuts that reach back as far as his 1990 breakthrough album Between Dusk and Dark from which he conjures both ‘And Dreaming’ and the deliciously mellow hit ‘Promise You’. Later, and fast forwarding nine years, Hughes dips into the highly rated Shakin Not Stirred to include both ‘For You’ and the title track from this same release which, in its time, was notably featured on an episode of Sex in the City.

Of course Hughes has combined a career as smooth jazz ‘A-Lister’ with performing and recording with world renowned vocalist Loreena McKennitt. His skills as a musician and producer are clearly evident on a wide range of her work including the platinum selling An Ancient Muse and the concert DVD Nights From The Alhambra that was filmed in Granada, Spain. He was also nominated for a Juno award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy’s) in the category of ‘Producer of the Year’ for his contribution to McKennitt’s platinum CD The Visit.

Back to No Reservations and the zesty ‘Nasca Lines’ is the sole representative from his 1992 sophomore outing Under The Sky. It gives a glimpse of the penchant he has for Latin moods that he frequently spices with world vibes and when he stops off at his 1995 album, Straight To You, the result is the familiar strains of the radio hit ‘Soul Fruit’. 1998 saw the release of his One 2 One project which here is showcased with a live rendition of ‘While The World Turns Slowly’. This chilled out number is just one more reason why Hughes’ music has stood the test of time and although, understandably, a major proportion of the DVD is given over to music from his most recent studio CD, Along The Way, what really captures the attention is the sheer depth of the music on offer. In fact Hughes features five numbers from Along The Way. The uplifting title tune is a superb example of how great smooth jazz should sound and the very different ‘Omaha Unbound’ evokes a journey across the vast empty expanses of Nebraska. Elsewhere both ‘Son Y Lola’ and ‘Thinkin Of You’ are Latin tinged and crammed full of sunshine while Hughes uses the tranquil ‘Endless Road’ to bring a tender end to this classic set.

For those who have come late to the music of Brian Hughes No Reservations is a wonderful place to start. Others who have been with him for the long haul will feel the memories come flooding back.

For more visit Brian’s excellent website at www.brianhughes.com

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at December 20, 2009 9:06 AM