Keiko Matsui Live: Our Woman From Tokyo

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Most of the time releasing a live album is a good way to mark time between trips to the studio as they are quick and easy cash grabs where a musician sells the fans a cheap ticket to a show they weren’t at. The Rolling Stones are masters of this slick tactic with no less than a dozen official live albums in their discography.

The fatal flaw with live albums is they are audio representations of a visual performance. This is a flaw resolved by Keiko Matsui as she goes all-in on Live in Tokyo, a CD and DVD document of her two-year tour in support of Soul Quest (Shanachie, 2013).

Live In Tokyo leans hard on Soul Quest (Shanachie, 2013), with seven of the 13 tracks coming from that album where Matsui fully embraced her smooth jazz following. The Keiko Matsui Sound formerly represented an East-meets-West hybrid of classical, New Age and jazz with a Japanese flourish provided by ex-husband Kazu Matsui’s shakahuchi. That part of sound vanished eight years ago after they divorced. A different sort of soul quest began which took Keiko Matsui to Africa and that lid a creative spark in the brilliantly underrated Moyo (Shout Factory, 2007)

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Since then, Matsui has released two albums of new material and now a live CD/DVD. Now live jazz albums rarely rise to the raucous level of Frampton Comes Alive!, but this audience is so quiet and polite you may forget it is is a live album. That’s okay, because this is still a great showcase for Matsui as not only a superb pianist, composer and arranger, but as a bandleader.

On stage Soul Quest gets a shot of energy played live that was missing in the studio which suffered a bit too much from overproduction. Stripped down to a hot five-piece band, Matsui is welcomes special guests Kirk Whalum and Chuck Loeb who both played on Soul Quest,as they faithfully reproduce the album. Taking it to the stage was a smart move by Matsui and Shanachie Records which deserves kudos because some labels would not show this level of support for even the most established artist.

The DVD not only is a visual document of the Tokyo concert, it is evidence of her status as a global ambassador and humanitarian which took Matsui from the Ukraine to Russia, Greece, Peru and other parts of the globe. It was 26 years ago when Matsui released her third album entitled No Borders. Now it’s an established fact. There are no borders for Matsui and Live In Tokyo is a four-star finish to the latest chapter in Matsui’s musical journey and a bridge to her next destination.

Track Listing: Dream Seeker‭; ‬Black Lion‭; ‬Forever Forever‭; ‬Caricias‭; ‬Proof‭; ‬Affirmation‭; ‬Soul Quest‭; ‬Safari‭; ‬Stingo‭; ‬Bridge Over the Stars‭; ‬Antarcia–A Call To Action‭; ‬A Night With Cha Cha‭; ‬Deep Blue (DVD has same track listing except “Deep Blue”).

Personnel: Keiko Matsui:‭ ‬piano,‭ ‬keyboards‭; ‬vocals‭; ‬Dave Karasony:‭ ‬drums‭; ‬Rico Belled:‭ ‬bass‭; ‬J.P.‭ ‬Mourao:‭ ‬guitar‭; ‬Tom Braxton:‭ ‬saxophone‭; ‬Chuck Loeb:‭ ‬guitar‭; ‬Kirk Whalum:‭ ‬saxophone

Record Label: Shanachie Records

This review originally appeared in All About Jazz

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“Winelight” Was Grover’s Greatest Groove

When jazz musicians pass away there’s an unfortunate tendency to put them in one of two categories, the never to be forgotten giants and then there’s everyone else. For the few artists who enjoyed a degree of mainstream success, if not always critical acclaim, they are forgotten fastest. This is not right.

When Grover Washington, Jr. passed away in 1999 the jazz world lost one of its most successful and talented creators, and in his wake a slew of saxophonists have stepped up to fill the void. None have. Philadelphia jazz deejay Bob Perkins said, of Washington, a native of the City of Brotherly Love, “He was the originator of smooth jazz, and all the rest—Najee, Kenny G—followed him.”

It is absolutely true that Washington was, along with George Benson, one of the founding fathers of smooth jazz and after the monster hit that was the Grammy-winning Winelight it wasn’t long before the saxophone became, along with the electric guitar, the two most preeminent instruments in the genre. For better or worse (and there’s an argument to be made for either side), Washington blazed a trail many others have followed, with varying degrees of success.

Within the crowed group of smooth jazz saxophonists there are a few originals following their own muse and blazing their trails of their own. Regretfully, the majority of bland cookie cutter clones slavishly hacking out infinite versions of the R&B/jazz fusion of “Mister Magic” and “Just the Two of Us” without bringing anything fresh to the table. Smooth jazz is stuck in a rut of safe sax where nothing is risked and nobody wants to step out of their comfort zone. Real jazz is all about taking risks, not playing it safe.

Washington was not so much a daring innovator as much as he was a solid musician who had paid his dues as part of Creed Taylor’s CTI and Kudu record labels, where the music was glossy and the album jackets were distinctive. Washington was labelmates with Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Bob James, Hubert Laws and Esther Phillips to name but a few of the artists on the CTI roster.

With his move to Elektra Records, in 1980 Washington uncorked Winelight. Predictably, it reached number one on Billboard’s Top Jazz, but then it crossed over to other charts. The album went to number five on Billboard’s Pop Albums, number two Top Soul Albums and “Just the Two of Us” reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and stayed there for three weeks. The album would go on to win two Grammy awards.

The quiet greatness of Winelight has not faded 35 years after its release. It’s far and away the best album of Washington’s long career. The slip n’ slide funk of “Mister Magic” put Washington on the map, but Winelight was the evidence he could flat out play.

Washington would go on to record 11 more albums before his horn fell silent, but none approached the all-time high of Winelight. Not much of Washington’s extensive catalog garners much airplay beyond “Mister Magic,” “Let It Flow” and “Just the Two of Us,” and that’s a shame because he continued to make some interesting albums at Columbia which deserve to be heard. Perhaps this new reissued and limited edition multichannel 5.1 SACD release will rekindle a discovery of the extensive Washington discography.

The Surround Sound remix was produced by Ralph MacDonald, the renowned percussionist who also co-wrote “Just the Two of Us” and shared production duties on Winelight with Washington. MacDonald died in 2011. Other notable musicians include drummer Steve Gadd, guitarist Eric Gale and a 21-year-old wizard on bass by name of Marcus Miller.

The only complaint with the remastered release is the absence of any bonus tracks or new liner notes. It is a missed opportunity not to offer some details and insights into the recording process or how Washington and McDonald convinced the reclusive Withers to provide the vocals for “Just the Two of Us.”

When most lists of the Top 25 Jazz Albums of All Time are compiled, Winelight is nowhere to be seen. It likely wouldn’t make the top 100 for the truly hardcore fan who likes their music with a rougher edge than smooth jazz provides. No way does it knock a Kind of Blue, A Love Supreme, Time Out or Blue Trane off the list, but when the list includes the 25 most influential jazz albums, Winelight belongs in there as much as Head Hunters or Breezin’ for taking jazz into a brand new direction even if everybody wasn’t happy with where it went.

Track Listing: Winelight; Let It Flow (for “Dr. J”); In the Name of Love; Take Me There; Just the Two of Us; Make Me A Memory (Sad Samba).

Personnel: Grover Washington, Jr.: soprano, alto, tenor saxophone; Bill Withers: vocals (5); Ralph McDonald: congas, percussion; syndrums; Steve Gadd: drums; Marcus Miller: bass; Eric Gale: guitar; Paul Griffin: Fender Rhodes (2, 4), clavinet (1); Richard Tee: Fender Rhodes: (3, 5); Bill Eaton: synthesizer (5); Ed Walsh: Oberheim 8-voice synthesizer; Raymond Chew: clavinet (1); Robert Greenidge: steel drums (tuned by Rudolph Charles); Hilda Harris, Yvonne Lewis, Ullanda McCullough: background vocals.

Record Label: Audio Fidelity

Style: Contemporary/Smooth

This review originally published in a different form at All About Jazz.

 

Chris Standring Takes Jazz Back to the Dance Floor

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If jazz is to avoid being relegated to the pit of obsolescence where VCR’s, pet rocks and NBC’s fall lineup for the last five years has been consigned to it won’t be enough to simply continue catering to the true believers and faithful die-hards that currently maintains the genre. Jazz will have to go places it hasn’t been before and go after potential listeners who think of it as the music their grandparents listened to.

One of those places are clubs where people gather not to be hipsters draining their glasses of wine and proclaiming how the masses didn’t “get” Coltrane and Mingus the way they do, but to sweat, to move and to groove to music that makes them not simply nod along approvingly, but actually get up on the floor and bust a move. Too many musicians have grown afraid of changing up their groove they forget a groove can quickly turn into a rut.

Don’t Talk, Dance! is Chris Standring‘s latest left turn since he decided to change course from standard smooth jazz to deeper explorations into extended improvisation, string quartets, classical, now deep danceable grooves that incorporates his varied musical tastes including electronica, drum and bass, trip-hop and funky beats and make no mistake, Standring isn’t half-steppin’ on his commitment to aggressive infuse dance beats into his jazz guitar playing. That same “all or nothing at all” approach he brought to Blue Bolero (Ultimate Vibe, 2010) and Electric Wonderland (Ultimate Vibe, 2012) blends seamlessly into the propulsive Don’t Talk, Dance!

Standring is more than ably assisted by his regular bandmates, keyboardist Rodney Lee, bassist Andre Berry and drummer Dave Karsony and while live drums are becoming an endangered species in music today, along with Karsony, no less than six more drummers are called to duty here. The four-piece string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) Standring applied to good purpose on his last two recordings return on five tracks as does a horn section on “Inside Outside” and “Another Fine Mess.”

It’s hard to choose the stand-out track here as Chris’ Excellent Adventure takes both him and the listener through an adventurous exploration of various styles including Euro-styled drum/bass chill, ambient trance, electronic dance music and dubstep. The funkiness of the opener, “Sky High” gives Lee a showcase for his skills on the Fender Rhodes and organ while the shimmering shuffle of “Inside Outside” is an irresistible groove monster. Joey Heredia’s drums on “Voices In My Head” will compel heads to bob and toes to tap. The aptly named “Crazy Bom Baizy” is where Standring pulls out all the stops and goes solo playing all the instruments on a tripped out workout that never stops jamming as if Sun Ra returned from outer space with a weird remix of dubstep and electronica. The party slows down for a mid-tempo tune, “Ride” where Lauren Christy contributes a sly, soulful vocal where she questions a potential suitor if he’s old enough to go where she might take him.

In a time where many musicians are content to recycle the same patented riffs time and again with different titles, it’s rewarding to hear one who keeps exceeding expectations as Standring does here. Don’t be surprised when Don’t Talk, Dance! ends up appearing high on numerous 2014 “Best of” lists.

Checking the smooth jazz charts Don’t Talk, Dance! is either occupying the number one spot or right behind whatever is.   Chris is a genuinely nice guy and I’m happy to see smooth jazz radio and fans finally giving this guy his due.

Track Listing: Sky High; Inside Outside; Sneakin’ Out the Front Door; Voices In My Head; Soul Symphony; Another Fine Mess; Crazy Bom Baizy; Ride; Absolute Madness; Yesterday’s Heaven; Imagine That; Scatterfunk; Nothing Lasts Forever

Personnel: Chris Standring: guitars, keyboards, programming, vocals, talkbox; Rodney Lee: Fender Rhodes, organ (1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 12); Andre Berry: bass (1-6, 8, 9, 12); Dave Salinas: drums (1); Janelle Sadler: vocals (1, 3, 5); Nikki Garcia: violin (1, 5, 12, 13); Barbra Porter: violin (1, 5, 12, 13); Tom Tally: viola (1, 5, 12, 13); Cameron Stone: cello (1, 5, 12, 13) ; Guy Richman: drums (2); Doug Webb: tenor sax (2, 6) ; Chris Tedesco: trumpet (2, 6) ; Steve Sidwell: trumpet (2, 6); Nick Lane: trombone (2, 6); Sergio Gonzales: drums (3, 8); Joey Heredia: drums (4); David Karsony: drums (5, 6, 12); Lauren Christy: vocals (8); Neil Steubenhaus: bass (10); Eric Valentine: drums (10, 11); Chris Blondal: drums (13)

Record Label: Ultimate Vibe

Style: Contemporary/Smooth

This review originally published at All About Jazz.

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Dave Koz’s Bummer of the Summer

“Strange. The longer I play the smaller this saxophone gets.”

The idea of a quartet of top smooth jazz saxophonists gathering for a super-session must have seemed like a great idea to Dave Koz. Why not invite Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot to join him for a sax summit? Hang out, play some together, have some laughs. It’ll be fun. What could possibly go wrong?

Quite a bit actually. The biggest problem with Summer Horns is it suffers from the mistaken assumption that if some is good, then more must be better. But more isn’t always better. Sometimes more is just more than what is necessary and that is why Summer Horns doesn’t work.

There will be a some folks mad at Koz about this album. Namely, every smooth jazz saxophonist who wasn’t invited to play.
Yet even swapping out Koz, Albright, Abair and Elliot for Euge Groove, Eric Darius, Walter Beasley and Jessy J., probably doesn’t change much. The songs would probably stay pretty much the same as the horn arrangements by Greg Adams, Tom Scott, Gordon Goodwin, Marco Basci and Albright achieve competency without ever being impressive.

Discerning fans will notice the songs chosen for the album are crossover jazz (Ronnie Laws’ “Always There” and “Rise” by Herb Alpert), rock and soul bands that featured horns, (Chicago, Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, Stevie Wonder) and a few standards for good measure.

The all-covers concept may have been driven by the desire to dress up familiar favorites in new technology or maybe it was a matter of the various artists not having the time to compose and learn all-new, original material. Since there is a follow-up tour scheduled what’s more likely to please a crowd: a bunch of new and unfamiliar tunes or moldy oldies they know by heart?

There is a vague whiff of calculation to this approach because even though Koz, Abair, Albright and Elliot’s interpretations pale in comparison to the originals the chance to see all four sharing the one stage will be an irresistible hook for both promoters and concertgoers.

As a Doobie Brother and as a solo act Michael McDonald was the epitome of blue-eyed soul, but that was a long time ago. Tower of Power’s “So Very Hard to Go” sinks as McDonald strains for the soul that used to come easily. Jeffrey Osbourne is a veteran crooner who does a little better with “God Bless the Child” but not much better. He doesn’t have much of an affinity for Billie Holiday’s definitive classic and Koz and company fare little better.

More successful and Jonathan Butler and Osbourne’s backing vocals for “Hot Fun In the Summertime” and if there weren’t enough horns already Brian Culbertson drops in to add a trombone solo. The horns-and-bass version of “Take Five” is sincere in its wish to pay respects to Dave Brubeck, but hasn’t Paul Desmond’s classic been overdone by now? A persistent criticism leveled at smooth jazz artists is they take the path of least resistance and here the charge sticks.

The lone original moment comes at the end with “Summer Horns” but by then it’s only a teaser of what this grand collaboration might have been if Koz and company hadn’t chosen to play things both straight and safe.

The urgency to please instead of intrigue the listener is what makes Summer Horns a frustrating affair. It’s akin to a summer blockbuster movie with a star-studded cast, eye-popping special effects that kills an hour or two and leaves no lasting, long-term impression. The talent of the stars is undisputed, but nobody seems on the verge of breaking a sweat.

This is an album that will sell big, but aims small.

This review originally appeared at All About Jazz.

This part didn’t.

There was more I wanted to say about Dave Koz and Friends and the Summer Horns album that I could not say in the All About Jazz review.   Here on my personal blog I say what I want.

And what I want to say is how much I could not stand this record.

I like smooth jazz, but boy, does it wear me out trying to defend it from those who call it unlistenable pabulum.   It’s not, but albums like Summer Horns are impossible to defend.   Everything  you hate about smooth jazz is here in big heaping helping of different ways to SUCK.

How much sax is too much sax?

I find what a lot musicians are doing  to be completely uninteresting to my ears and jazz is certainly no exception.  Nothing bugs me more than guys like  Koz  whom seem capable of more, but settle on uninspired and unachieving crap like his  Summer Horns project which relies on a gimmick of pulling together four smooth jazz sax players, going through the motions on some lame cover version of someone else’s hit songs and then just noodle until it sells like crazy (or what passes for crazy in an age where nobody buys albums anymore).

It’s a sin and a shame to make music this dull.   It’s not a crime, but it should be.   This is not the worst album I’ve heard from a major act in ten years of reviewing recordings, but it could be the most lethargic.   Playing loud and piling on some lame solos doesn’t mean you’re kicking ass.   Simply calling Summer Horns a “bad” album doesn’t get close to summing up my feelings.  Bad is the wrong word.  Dreary is the word.  This is the kind of record that people who love jazz hate with a passion because it isn’t jazz.   It’s instrumental music.    Which ain’t necessarily jazz.

Too many musicians learn a trick and then they repeat that trick if it proves to be successful.   “They liked that one so I’ll give them another one just like it.”   This is a trap and artists big and small have walked into it.  I know this to be true.  Jazz is too much of a limited niche market for anybody to deliberately make lousy music and I truly believe  nobody makes a bad album on purpose.

But lazy, half-ass, going through the motions albums that nothing but product like a bad of McDonald’s fries?   Yes.  That absolutely happens all the time.

My father always said bad music will drive out good.   He wasn’t  entirely right about that.  Boring music  drives out both.

Paul Hardcastle’s No Stress Success

Paul Hardcastle‘s greatest strength? Consistency. Paul Hardcastle’s greatest weakness? Also consistency. Before you applaud or boo Hardcastle you must admit this: the man knows what he does best and he is not about to stop doing it based on what critics say when his global audience tells him that’s exactly the way they like it.

There is essentially no difference between Hardcastle’s solo and his Jazzmasters releases. The same musicians appear on both. The music is interchangeable as well. Even the album covers have similar generic art of sunsets, waterfalls and dreamy-eyed models deep in reflection.

Is it formulaic? Yes, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He delivers what his fans want: consistency and professionalism. Hardcastle is still a one-man band weaving smooth jazz and chill with a gutsier version of New Age soundscapes mashed up with electronic beats, airy wordless vocals, bubbling keyboards and silky saxophones riffs. This sort of workmanlike approach goes against the grain of the jazz aficionado, but that’s probably not Hardcastle’s target demographic anyway.

That doesn’t mean Hardcastle is averse to incorporating a few variations on his successful theme. On VII he goes long; as in 11 minutes long on the lead-off “The Truth (Shall Set You Free)” and a few other tracks blow past the six and seven-minute mark. Everything you would expect from Hardcastle is here. The beats, the vocals, the keyboard, the sax and that ever-present mood of dreamily lying in the grass staring up at the clouds as they roll by is here in abundance.

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Where “The Truth (Shall Set You Free)” goes beyond expectation is it is a song suite without being called one, as it changes in subtle shifts and displays a greater than usual degree of innovation and complexity. Hardcastle layers the instrumentation and vocals with a change-up near the 8:00 minute mark. If it never quite achieves grandiosity, “The Truth (Shall Set You Free)” is proof Hardcastle is willing to push himself from time to time.

Nothing else on VII aspires to that level of ambition, though “No Stress At All” is admittingly inspired by the Kool and the Gang‘s “Summer Madness” it has some fine moments. The remainer of the album is the usual indistinct soundscapes.

Hardcastle may never have another big hit like “19” or “Rain Forest” in his repertoire, but maybe he doesn’t need one as long as he keeps his devoted following happy even as his continued popularity baffles his critics.    You can fight  but you’re not going to make Hardcastle switch.  He knows what he knows and he does what he does.

Track Listing: The Truth (Shall Set You Free); No Stress At All; Summer Love; Crystal Whisper; Easy Street; Dance of the Wind; Apache Warrior; Stepping On Shadows; Love Is A Power; The Truth (Shall Set You Free) Reprise

Personnel: Paul Hardcastle: keyboards, programming, unspecified instrumentation; Rock Hendricks: saxophones; Maxine Hardcastle: lead and backing vocals; Paul Hardcastle, Jr. : unspecified instruments; Helen Rogers: vocal samples, Mark Hasselbach: trumpet (2, 7)

This review originally published at All About Jazz.

Albright and Brown Are Bringing It “24/7”

Two great taste sensations together.

No instruments dominate smooth jazz more than the guitar and saxophone, which is why Gerald Albright and Norman Brown, two of the genre’s most dominant players, make such an inspired pairing. Both musicians are on the top of their game and while 24/7 breaks no new ground, it does provide perfect listening for warm summer nights when a cool groove is required.

Multi-instrumentalist Albright’s array of saxophones and robust tone tends to slightly overshadow Brown’s deft guitar playing at times, but never overwhelms it. Brown recedes a bit from a soloist to sideman, but seems comfortable allowing Albright to do the heavy lifting while he follows his lead.

There’s a definite “back in the day” vibe to 24/7 with ample amounts of funk, soul and a taste of quiet storm to “In the Moment,” “Champagne Life” and the title track which features the striking vocals of the saxophonist’s daughter, Selina Albright.

Above all, Albright and Brown are experts at entertaining the audience. There’s no pretense of anything historical or monumental in 24/7. The duo have secured their place in contemporary jazz and even if they aren’t breaking new ground, they clearly have a synergy that makes this stylish collaboration work so well.

So cool you can turn your air conditioning off.

On a personal note, a few years ago I caught  Norman Brown doing it live at the Columbus Jazz & Rib Fest and Albright last year at the gone and now forgotten Vonn Jazz and Blues Club and he torn the roof off the sucka.     They are doing some gigs together to promote their collaboration, and it’s just too bad they are playing at Jazz and Rib Festival this year.    The weak line-up of acts isn’t giving me much reason to grab some lawn chairs and a cooler and venture out into the summer heat.

Guess I’ll just stay home and turn up 24/7 in the comfort of my home.  Spare myself of paying for parking, fighting for a good spot to hear the show or not having enough wet-napkins to wipe the barbecue sauce off my fingers.

Track Listing: In the Moment; Keep It Moving; Perfect Love; Buenos Amigos; Tomorrow; Yes I Can; 24/7; Champagne Life; The Best Is Yet to Come; Power of Your Smile

Personnel: Gerald Albright: alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flutes, bass guitar, percussion, programming; electronic wind instrument; background vocals; Norman Brown: lead guitar, rhythm gutiar; Tracy Carter: keyboards (1, 7, 8, 10); Rick Watford: rhythm guitar (1, 4, 8); Jay Williams: drums (1, 4, 7, 8); Herman Jackson: keyboards (2, 3, 5. 6, 9): Byron Miller: bass (2, 3, 5, 6, 9); Charles Steeter: drums (2, 3, 5, 6, 9) ; Ramon Ysalas: percussion (2, 5, 6, 9); Rochella Brown: vocals (3); Demille Cole-Heard: vocals (3); Phil Davis: keyboards (4); Selina Albright: vocals (7, 8) ; Ricky Lawson: drums (10); Mark Cagill: strings, harp and bell programming (10)

Originally published at All About Jazz.

 

“Peter White” Does Not Like My Review of Peter White

“Jeff Winbush, at one of MY shows? Cheeky bugger.”

I’m of the mind that anyone who creates something for public consumption is subject to have whatever that something is critiqued.  Not every artist agrees with the assessment, but most don’t take the compliments or the criticism to heart.

Most, but not all as my recent review of the new Peter White album seems to demonstrate:  

Make no mistake about it: Peter White is a technically proficient guitarist who blends impeccable taste and admirable fluidity in his playing. He is standing on the top of the smooth jazz food chain and Here We Go will do nothing to lessen his dominance as one of the most popular artists working today. White is a pro’s pro who knows what he can do and he does it quite successfully.

But there’s a tad too much polish and far too much restraint to make any lasting impression At its heart, Here We Go feels like just another in a series of pleasant-sounding Peter White recording that breaks no new ground, places no demands and commands little (if any) attention.

This isn’t a bad album so much as it isn’t a compelling one. The saxophones solos by David Sanborn on the horn-heavy title track and Kirk Whalum on “Our Dance” are as effective as they are routine. Sanborn and Whalum can play this kind of stuff in their sleep. Philippe Saisse‘s piano is a standout, and Ramon Yslas’ Latin percussion livens up the three tracks he appears on, but he isn’t enough to lift the album up from the humdrum and ho-hum.

White can’t be faulted for being a bad musician because he clearly is not. He excels at what he does, but what he does is play exactly the right amount of notes in exactly the correct sequence to make precisely the kind of pretty sounding music that doesn’t stray from his formula. Some artists swim against the tide; others prefer to float along with it. White excels at the latter.

There’s nothing wrong with courting commercial success, and who can blame White for staying in his lane and making what is essentially nice-sounding, but never compelling music. This album was never meant to appeal to jazzheads wanting their guitarists to have a harder edge, get a little nasty and put some blood, sweat and tears into their playing.

That is not Peter White’s style, it never will be, and he’s probably okay with that. Everybody else will learn to be too.

Track Listing: Night After Night, Time Never Sleeps, Here We Go, If Ever, Our Dance, Desert Night, Joyride, Costa Rica, My Lucky Day, Requiem For A Princess, Reunion

Personnel: Peter White: guitars, accordion, unspecified instruments; D.C.: unspecified instruments; Nate Phillips: bass (1, 2,); Phillipe Saisse: piano, keyboards, drum programming, orchestration (1-5, 7, 10); David Sanborn: saxophone solo (3); Andrew Neu: background sax, soprano sax, saxophones, flute (3, 4, 7, 8); Gabriel the Gun: flugelhorn, trumpet (3, 7, 8); Mel Scott: baritone sax (3); Kiki Ebsen: vocals (4); Charlotte White: violin (4); Ramon Yslas: congas, timbales, percussion (4, 7, 8); Roberto Vally: upright bass (5, 11).

The review received a comment.  Apparently, from Mr. White himself.  He wasn’t happy either.

Thanks for the comments, Jeff.

I was amused by your line- “This album was never meant to appeal to jazzheads wanting their guitarists to have a harder edge, get a little nasty and put some blood, sweat and tears into their playing”.

I am not a jazz player, I have never tried to appeal to jazz heads, never tried to break new ground or place any demands as you say and most of all, never tried to court commercial success as you imply. I welcome criticism of my music but draw the line when writers such as yourself start questioning my motives. You do not know me and have not a clue as to what my motives are for making music. Let me help you-

I play and record music that I like and turns me on. I hope other people will like it but that is not what drives me. Please reserve your criticism for what I do, not for what you thought I should have done. You may become a better writer in the process.

All my best…..Peter White
email@peterwhite.com

P.S. As to your snide comment that my music “commands little (if any) attention”, my current single and the title track “Here We Go” currently stands at number 1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz chart. Maybe more research is needed here, Jeff.

Billboard Smooth Jazz chart:   1 – 1 (3rd week @ #1)

I have doubts Peter White trolls the Internet looking for middling-to-negative reviews of his albums so he can take the writer to task.  I would hope he has better things to do.   However, a Peter White fan has plenty of time to take exception to such a review.  Perhaps so much so they would respond to it by claiming they are Peter White.    That’s equal parts ballsy and stupid, but I had a few minutes to waste so I replied to “Peter.”

Hi, “Peter.”

If this really is  Peter White, the guy who says he never tried to court commercial success (but boasts his album is Number One on Billboard’s Jazz Chart), I’d say despite the claim ou welcome criticism of your music, aren’t you too busy enjoying that commercial success you say don’t care about?

It’s great your album is doing so well, “Peter,” but I don’t write my reviews based upon whether you’ve sold 500,000 copies or five. Nobody on All About Jazz does.

You are right “Peter” that I don’t know or your motives, but I do own enough of your music and that qualifies me to express an opinion. My opinion is I don’t care for Here We Go. It’s safe. It has no edge. It breaks no new ground.  That’s my opinion.  I never said it had to accepted as fact.

I listen to and review music that artists make and when I do, I write reviews that honestly reflect my assessment of the music. If you feel I’ve attacked you personally and in an unprofessional manner, I’d urge you to bring it to the attention of the editors at All About Jazz.

What I will promise you when you make an album I like, I’ll say I’ll like it, but when you make an album I dislike, I’ll say that I dislike it.

I will also promise I won’t tell you how to become a better musician if you don’t tell me how to become a better writer.

Have a good day.  That was also a better album than Here We Go.

Jeff Winbush

Peter White in the process of making sure he’s not playing jazz.