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.
After an absence of almost two years, the incredible Maysa (who I have described elsewhere as the best kept secret on urban AC radio) comes roaring back with the aptly titled Blue Velvet Soul. In common with her recent projects the CD is produced in part by Chris 'Big Dog' Davis and much like the 2011 effort Motions Of Love (that comprised fourteen tracks) offers quantity (fifteen songs) to go with the amazing quality of what proves to be an extremely feisty collection.
In fact Blue Velvet Soul opens in fine style with the deliciously edgy 'Beautiful Dreamer' and although the ultra sexy 'When You Touch Me' checks every urban box imaginable the brass fuelled 'I Care' is a tune that puts the gas pedal firmly to the floor.
Of course Maysa is famous for her extended association with Incognito and for 'Blue Velvet Soul' the band's renowned leader Bluey Maunick co-writes and produces three songs. One of them is 'Good Morning Sunrise' while elsewhere the jazzy vibe of 'What Can I Do' fits Maysa's buttery tones like a glove. Much the same can be said of the expansive ballad 'Quiet Fire' and when the tempo eases down for the sultry 'Sophisticated Lover' Maysa's cool spoken word narrative (that from time to time expands into the French language) really gets the job done.
'When Your Soul Answers' is full of the slick production techniques that make Chris 'Big Dog' Davis the 'go-to' guy for so many top line artists. With an understated horn section and an urgency that builds, this is right up there with the best that Blue Velvet Soul has to offer and another cut that demonstrates Davis' urban credentials is the wonderful 'Be There'.
The hypnotic groove of 'Inside My Dream' also owes much to the input of Davis and when Lorenzo Johnson takes up the production reins for 'Love Me Good' he conjures up a vibe that could well get in your head and not go away.
In terms of dance floor fillers look no further than the high octane 'Put It On Me'. Equally up-beat is the hugely rhythmic 'This Much' yet, in the final analysis, the stunning 'Nothing But You' is not only capable of energizing even the most tired of dancing feet, but is a number that has already become a firm personal favorite.