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. A new CD from smooth jazz superstar Dave Koz is the highlight of any musical year and the fact Hello Tomorrow is his first collection of original music since 2003 has only served to heighten the excitement which surrounds it. In reality this is a body of work that for Dave represents a fresh start in almost every way. Recently signed to Concord Records and with Grammy award winning producers Marcus Miller and John Burk on board, he has delivered an album that not only raises the bar but also embraces a whole new musical concept.
There are many things to commend the memorable Hello Tomorrow and among them is how Koz has gathered together a stellar group of guest artists on a scale that, with the possible exception of Brian Culbertson’s recent work, is unparalleled in the genre. Koz recently debuted the breezy lead single, ‘Put The Top Down’ on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno when he sat in with Rickey Minor and The Tonight Show Band. Underpinned by the message that “it’s OK to have fun too” the track includes great performances from guitarists Lee Ritenour and Ray Parker Jr. In fact it is one of five tunes written by Koz in partnership with the prolific Brian Culbertson and another is the spine chillingly beautiful ‘It’s Always Been You’ which is blessed by the smooth guitar of Paul Jackson Jr and percussion from Sheila E.
Culbertson returns to provide writing and performing inputs to the delightfully mid tempo ‘Anything’s Possible’ and although ‘The Journey’ affords Koz the opportunity to ease things down he is quickly back on fire with ‘Getaway’. Complete with a wonderful vocal chorus from Jonathan Butler and Sheila E this is a tune that is as infectious as they come. Feel good music really doesn’t get better than this.
Talking about a happy vibe there can be none more so than that generated by the zesty ‘Think Big’ where Culbertson again plays a part. However, in terms of these sumptuous Koz – Culbertson collaborations there is nothing finer than ‘There’s A Better Way’ which owes much to earthy sax from Koz, a cool vocal from Keb Mo and Hammond B3 from Bobby Sparks that, as they say, really takes you back.
‘Start All Over Again’ has all the attributes of a song that might be played over the title credits of a Hollywood film and given it is written (and features vocals) by Dana Glover this is hardly surprising. Indeed, having previously written music for the movies ‘The Wedding Planner’, ‘Shrek’, ‘Two Weeks Notice’ and ‘Laws Of Attraction’, she provides something here that is both pleasing and different. Elsewhere the silky rendition of the Bacharach - David classic ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ proves to be something of a first in that it enables Koz (for the first time ever) to exercise what is revealed as an excellent singing voice. Lynne Fiddmont is predictably magical on backing vocals whilst there is a real treat when none other than Herb Alpert steps up to play the memorable melody that made this great tune famous.
Truth to tell, legends abound. Jeff Lorber is well known for delivering contemporary jazz with an edge and this is exactly what he does when sharing production and playing keyboards on the splendidly uplifting ‘Remember Where You Came From’. Co-written by Lorber and enriched by a wonderfully brassy veneer it is right up there with the collection’s best while in terms of personal favorites there is much from which to choose. However, a real attention grabber is ‘When Will I Know For Sure’ which finds Koz sharing the spotlight with Boney James. With creative contributions from Darren Rahn and Nate Harisam, bass from Marcus Miller and keys from the always excellent Dave Delhomme, this one seems destined for great things yet just as good is ‘Whisper In Your Ear’. Without doubt the album’s most sensual cut, and with Koz perfectly teamed with Paul Jackson Jr on guitar, Marcus Miller on bass and co-writer Harvey Mason Jr on keys, it may well be a vehicle for what could easily be the world’s greatest smooth jazz super-group of all time.
With a nod to Wayman Tisdale and former Concord executive Hal Gaba (who both sadly passed away in the last year) ‘What You Leave Behind’ is a reflective but totally appropriate end to what in every respect is a magnificent CD. It will be released on October 12 and comes highly recommended.
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 25, 2010 4:25 PM