Carl Stanley - A Beautiful Thing

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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.

Currently attracting some attention as part of Peter White�s UK tour, British born sax-man Carl Stanley has recently released his debut CD, the appropriately titled A Beautiful Thing. This ultra cool collection of twelve self penned contemporary jazz gems is right up there with the best releases of the year so far and, with guest performances from guitarist Dwight Sills, keyboard player Oli Silk and vocalist Gianna, is a superb example of how jazz can merge with R & B in the most delightful of ways.

Take for example the easy grooving title cut where Stanley�s seriously soulful playing really hits the spot. Its one of several tracks to feature the always excellent Sills on guitar and another is the velvety and deliciously melodic �You Make Me�La La� that is right up there with the best that A Beautiful Thing has to offer.

Two numbers are included in both vocal and instrumental form with the first of these being the romantically inclined and heartfelt �Love�. On the vocal version Stanley, although handing over center stage to the sultry Gianna, still makes some sensational sax interventions that on the instrumental take are understandably developed in a way that totally captivates. The other song to be given this same dual treatment is �Hold Me Close� for which Stanley�s performance on tenor sax makes comparisons with Kirk Whalum impossible not to make.

It again finds Gianna in splendid soulful form and it�s worth noting that Gianna (Welling) originates from Tulsa, Oklahoma but has made a musical name for herself in Houston Texas. Her CD Something True found an instant fit with the club culture of the United Kingdom where throughout 2009 it flirted with the top placings in the UK soul charts.

In terms of personal favorites the smoky �Secrets� benefits from a fine keyboard solo by Oli Silk (who also mixes throughout) but all things considered the top tune is �The Way You Smile�. This mid tempo smoker shimmers with a totally compelling vibe and is a certainty to be one my top tracks for 2012.

Laced together by groove-drenched vignettes that Stanley titles �Introlude�, �Interlude� and �Postlude� respectively A Beautiful Thing is a worthy addition to this year�s crop of new music and comes highly recommended.

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