D E N I S * P O O L E
�Smile� by Canadian guitarist Rob Tardik from his current album Balance Energy Laughter Love (aka BELL). This is proving to be a collection that keeps on giving as with the singles �East Meets Wes� and �Shakin The House� already having made a considerable impact on smooth jazz radio Smile� seems all set to do just as well. Featuring Jaared on sax, this happy tune with a feel good vibe is sure to put a smile on the face of all those who hear it.
�Namaste� by Kenny G and Rahul Sharma from the CD of the same name. Although the title track to this interesting collection is already dominating the smooth jazz airwaves the version of it to really check all the boxes is a �Soul Seekers Club Mix� that completely steals the show. Although the words Kenny G and �dance floor filler� don�t often appear in the same sentence this one, despite all the odds, is an absolute gem.
�All I Do�, by soulful saxophonist Jeanette Harris from the album, Saxified. Although this is a collection that first saw the light of day in 2010 it is only now getting the publicity it so richly deserves. Central to this refocusing is the brand new radio single �All I Do� which is a silky cover of the Stevie Wonder composition that back in 1966 helped make Tammi Terrell a star. It is but one highlight of an album packed full of them.
�In The City� by Brian Culbertson from the album Dreams. From moody beginnings and with a killer bass line throughout this one is a certainty to be in my twenty top tunes of 2012.
�Cougars� by the Rippingtons from the soon to be released new CD Built To Last. This Latin spiced easy grooving number finds Freeman on guitar at the very center of a song which, when compared to past classics such as �Tourist In Paradise�, is very much Rippingtons on the reflective side.
J E F F * D A N I E L S
Al Jarreau & The Metropole Orkest: Live (Concord Jazz) (2012)
Gerald Albright & Norman Brown, 24/7 (Concord Jazz) (2012)
Rico Belled, XR7 (Black Scratch Music) (2012)
Brian Culbertson, Dreams (Verve) (2012)
P E T E R * B O E H I
Marcus Miller - Tutu Revisited (2011)
This 2CD plus DVD set is one of the greatest albums to come along in a long time, I am repeatedly drawn back to this excellent set of musicianship by a killer band featuring trumpet player Christian Scott and saxophonist Alex Han, propelled by the masterful and funky bass of Marcus Miller. The album was recorded live in France and revisits Miles Davis' Tutu catalog, where Marcus Miller was Miles' musical partner. The often lengthy performances are out of this world with great solos by all involved and - above all - the rock solid and inspired bass playing of the leader who is on top of his game. A musical milestone!
Billy Kilson's BK Groove - Rhythm Dancer (2011)
Drummer Billy Kilson is a very unique drummer with a complex technique that impresses and delights, he tours with Chris Botti for years and does his own projects as well. This set was recorded live with a great band, additionally you get a DVD to add the visuals. This set has a similar spirit like the Marcus Miller album with its great playing and lengthy solos, the band delivers an outstanding performance to sink your teeth into. Excellent stuff!
Return To Forever - The Mothership Returns (2012)
Originally formed in 1971 and being on the forefront of fusion during the 70ies, this great band reunited with original members Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, plus Frank Gambale on guitar and Jean-Luc Ponty on violin, who perfectly fit the bill and form a cohesive and tight group that delivers flawlessly. The music was recorded live, you get a 2 CD set plus a DVD with some concert footage and interviews, the music is complex and challenging yet still groovy and accessible, the band has mellowed out a bit and gives the music more room to breathe, which is a welcome development. The songs are long and give each player ample room to stretch out. Simply wonderful!
Shilts - All Grown Up (2012)
Saxophonist Shilts comes up with a great slice of funky and groovy smooth jazz, the playing is just excellent and I especially like the pairing of sax and trombone on "The Test Of Time", this is an album that is really top-notch and heartily recommended. Thumbs up!
Yonrico Scott - Be In My World (2012)
This release by drummer Yonrico Scott seems to have come out of nowhere, it blew me away right from the start with its cool funkiness and strong compositions and playing. The songs are catchy and the instrumentals jazzy and interesting. Quality stuff from beginning to end!