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. Inside Out by Phoenix based keyboard player Cal Harris Jr has been ten years in the making yet the vibe that this hugely accessible eleven track gem generates makes the wait entirely worthwhile. Not only that, with contributions from the likes of bass player Freddie Washington, guitarist Matt Marshak and drummer Michael White, this fine collection of all original music has the red thread of quality running right through it.
The son of Grammy-nominated sound engineer Calvin Harris, young Cal grew up wandering the halls of the renowned Motown Studios in Los Angeles. The influences he gained there must have been significant as Cal was quickly following in his fathers footsteps to a career as a sought after recording engineer, programmer, and keyboard player. Not only did it lead to work with artists such as Earth Wind & Fire, Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Whitney Houston, and Beyonce but also contributed to what became a lifetime of priceless industry know-how. It is these experiences combined with Cal’s talent for composition that differentiates ‘Inside Out’ from the crowd.
By and large the music of Cal Harris Jr. can be best described as deliciously understated and certainly the beautifully constructed ‘Millennium Blues’ suggests something akin to instrumental ‘quiet storm’. In similar vein is the warmly inviting ‘Hidden’ which further confirms the penchant Cal has for thoughtful turned-down grooves and this same sublime tranquility is also evident with the haunting ‘Secrets’.
Two musical interludes, each around one minute in duration, serve to add variation to what is an already rich landscape and although ‘Soon As I Get Home’ is another reflective gem, it is great sax from Harold Todd that sets the scene for the brief ‘High Tide’ which takes Harris Jr. firmly into chill territory.
Elsewhere the easy grooving ‘She Loves The Water’ proves to be a delightfully innovative slice of mid tempo contemporary jazz and in this respect is in the good company of the zesty title tune that is right up there with the album’s best. In complete contrast whilst equally good is the brass driven swagger of ‘Jukin’ that owes much to more terrific sax from Todd but the real show stealer is arguably the soul drenched ‘Questions’. With sensational vocals from Tiarra this seductive cut is quite simply a top notch example of smooth R & B.
For more on this great new release, and to buy it via iTunes, go to www.calharrisjr.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 September 19, 2010 11:26 AM