Darren Rahn - Speechless

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.

It was through his work with the late Wayman Tisdale that producer, composer and saxophonist Darren Rahn first made his mark. At first his role was very much behind the scenes and behind the mixing console but his studio activities with Tisdale and an assortment of other smooth jazz heavy hitters proved pivotal in launching his solo career. Three critically acclaimed solo albums ensued and now he is back with number four, the high octane Speechless.

The CD opens with �Wave of The Future� which is a shuffling mid tempo track that builds into something altogether more potent. It includes Darren�s brother Jason on trumpet and was co-written by Rahn and Dave Koz. When Koz returns for the ultra powerful �Flashback� his interplay with Rahn is fabulous and although �One Step Ahead� provides a tasty slice of regulation smooth jazz, much of the early buzz surrounding �Speechless� has been about the first song to go to radio. Titled �Magnetic� this compellingly accessible cut is, not surprisingly, taking the contemporary jazz charts by storm.

The big thumping �Into The Light� is in the best traditions of what we have come to expect from Darren Rahn and much the same can be said of the punchy, sax driven �Revelation� which includes a fine bass solo from Mel Brown. When Rahn and Brown hook up with label mate Nate Harasim for �Euro Trippin� they deliver a tune that can can accurately be described as being entirely off the chain and later Harasim provides more stellar input to the sizzling �Studio 54� which features superb flute from none other than Najee.

The zesty, urban inclined �Magical� is a song with massive crossover appeal and, featuring wonderfully streetwise vocals from Joshua, is a clear contender for the accolade of Secret Garden top track. Yet amongst the frequent bolts of high-energy lightning there are several tender moments and in this respect there is none better than the wonderful �Give �N� Take� where Paul Brown is at his unmistakable best on guitar. Mellow of a different kind comes in the form of the hugely atmospheric title cut which owes much of its seductive quality to the vocals of the rapidly emerging Maxine Hardcastle while elsewhere �The Healing� provides a melodic ending to what is a splendid addition to this year�s crop of new music.

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.