B E V E R L Y * P A C K A R D
Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen, 1997. I saw their name often enough but never listened until I was caught off guard and realized how much I enjoyed the vocalist and the piano. The tongue-in-cheek introduction of the care they took in producing this CD had me laughing; lyrics are thought-provoking and reminiscent of some common painful themes of human existence. Vocals include capable harmonizing and the piano leaves a lasting impression on a number of tracks. In spots I'm reminded of the Beatles and Steely Dan and that's always a good thing.
The New York Rock and Soul Revue, Live at the Beacon, 1991. Libby Titus produced this great show featuring Donald Fagan, Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, Phoebe Snow and other familiar names, with tunes from Steely Dan, The Rascals� Felix Cavaliere/Eddie Brigati, Gamble and Huff, to name a few. So much of this so perfectly done (in addition to the raw talent of the performers, Donald Fagan would have it no other way, I realize). �Drowning In the Sea of Love� with Boz Scaggs on the vocals is amazing.
B R I A N * S O E R G E L
Various Artists, 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas: A little early for Christmas, perhaps, but this powerhouse smooth jazz CD produced by David Benoit also has one of the year�s best songs: guitarist Norman Brown�s �Skating.�
Chris Botti, To Love Again: It sounds a lot like his last one, but there are nine vocals, including those by Michael Buble, Renee Olstead and Steven Tyler from � gulp � Aerosmith. One quibble � Rosa Passos should have sung in her native Portuguese since her accent is too distracting.
Will Downing, Soul Symphony: The man with the golden voice returns with nine new classics, including the irresistible �Put Me On.�
Kyle Eastwood, Paris Blue: Some jazz, some funk and two groovy dance-floor remixes that defy expectations. Bravo to Eastwood for not painting himself into a jazz corner. Check out proud papa Clint whistling on �Big Noise (From Winnetka).�
Bob Baldwin, All in a Day�s Work: Another stellar CD by an underrated pianist. One of the best CDs of the year, including some great Brazilian stuff.
P E T E R * B O E H I
Bob Baldwin, All In A Day's Work (2005)
Well rounded smooth jazz album by underrated keyboard player Bob Baldwin hitting bull's eye again.
Lynn Cannon , Walk In The Park (2001)
I am a big fan of this keyboard player and like each one of his releases, this on included. Great keyboard playing and catchy compositions lead to a satisfying result, very recommended.
U-Nam , The Past Builds The Future (2005)
Debut album by guitarist U-Nam offering a great mix of soul/r&b tunes and smooth jazz boasting guests like Rahsaan Patterson, Phil Perry, Gary Meek and Jeff Lorber among others.
Vincent Lars - Inner Search (2005)
Warm smooth saxophone over contemporary grooves emanating an urban/r&b feeling, laid-back, steamy and sensuous.
D E N I S * P O O L E
'Embraceable You' by Chris Botti from the CD To Love Again. His sublime trumpet solo of this timeless Gershwin classic sets a high standard for the entire album.
'Soul Steppin' by Will Downing from his CD Soul Symphony. Everyone loves to 'step' and Rex Rideouts production on this one really gets in the groove.
'When Loves Comes To Town' by Herbie Hancock featuring Joss Stone and Jonny Lang from the CD Possibilities. Best track of an interesting and eclectic album.
'Charmed' by Najee from the CD My Point Of View. One of the best of a very good bunch.
'Get Em Goin' by Euge Groove from the CD Just Feels Right. This one is not #3 in the top thirty most played for nothing.
J O N A T H A N * W I D R A N
Bona Fide, Soul Lounge (Heads Up)
Euge Groove, Just Feels Right (Narada Jazz)
Def Jazz (GRP)
Earl Klugh, Naked Guitar (Koch Records)