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.
If you know the LA jazz scene then chances are you know Bennett Brandeis. Whether as part of the re-formed 5th Dimension's touring band or working in studio orchestras such as that at Universal for the television show Magnum P.I., this fine guitarist is all about the groove so it is no surprise that his latest release is the appropriately titled Groove Time. Produced by multi Grammy winning Paul Brown, and with the likes of Ricky Lawson, Greg Adams, Roberto Vally, Marco Basci, Elan Trotman and Darren Rahn around to lend a hand, this is an album that has come out of no-where to be rightly regarded as among the best of the year so far.
In fact Groove Time is the fourth solo project from Brandeis (aka Bennett B) and follows his debut CD, Jazz Guitar (that he recorded as a trio with Joe LaBarbera on drums and Dave Carpenter on bass). The follow-up, The View From Above, came along in 2006 but it was with his third offering, Storytelling, that he began to lean toward a more contemporary jazz approach. Now, with Groove Time, Bennett is positioning himself for genuine smooth jazz stardom.
In the main the recording is characterized by rhythm and melody, all delivered in an exquisitely subtle wrapper that provides a timely reminder of how all-consuming west coast smooth jazz can be when done this well.
A case in point is the fabulously sophisticated 'Slipstream' that has something of a Fourplay feel to it and for which Basci's interjections on keys are sublime. In common with the entire album, Brown's production touches are all over it and much the same can be said of the easy grooving 'Now And Again' where Bennett's nylon string guitar dovetails to perfection with Brown's distinctive electric sound.
The deliciously mid tempo 'Show Your Love' benefits from the sax of Elan Trotman and when Trotman returns to play his part on 'Between Rivers' he helps deliver what in every respect is a soothing Latin charmer. Elsewhere, when sax-man Darren Rahn steps up for 'Get On Up!' his horn arrangements add to the funky quality of this zesty number and although "beauty personified" would be an apt way to describe the spine tingling 'When I Look In Your Eyes', it is with the splendidly hard driving title cut that Bennett again lifts the tempo.
The relaxed yet compelling 'In My Mind' proves to be a sensational way in which to close out the collection and another track that is right up there with the best that Groove Time has to offer is the ultra cool 'Above The Clouds' where Jervonny Collier holds it down on bass and Greg Adams wows on flugelhorn like only he can.
However, all things considered, the accolade of Secret Garden Top Tune goes to the scintillating 'Tell Me About It'. Not only is it currently tearing up the Amazon smooth jazz charts but is also a complete shoo-in for my top twenty of 2014.
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.