Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Roger Smith - Just Enough - 2007

Roger Smith's albums may well be lumped in with the Smooth Jazz elements and as such could well become overlooked. Being no fan of this pallid music form I can assure you that the fare that Roger dishes up is neither smooth, featureless or pallid in any sense of the word. Like other strong Jazz-Fusion artists he has to tread a fine line, yet Roger Smith does it with real aplomb. This recent musical episode is not one that I would recommend you overlook. As far as American Jazz goes, it's the best of the bunch and much doffing of my hat to the man for his sensuous, soulful and funky mix of ballads, steppers and instrumentals. There are plenty of vocals and these are the ones that really whet my appetite. Of all the vocal cuts my favourite has to be the brilliant "Sunset Dreams" which features 80s soul hero Philip Ingram as well as the wonderful Lynn Fiddmont! This is summer set to music...the warm bass, tinkling ivories, slinky yet funky backbeat and soulfully haunting backing harmonies are simply out of this world.

If this isn't good enough, the superb title track will be enough to satisfy. This kind of material is far, far removed from Smooth Jazz as you could ever wish it to be. This is the kind of material that Bobby Lyle expertly laid down on his seminal "The Power Of Touch" album back in 1997. Fans of George Duke will also dig this material. I call it exquisite. Those of you who own his "Consider This" album will already be aware of his "I'll Always Love You" which features the Temptations on vocals. Released in 2000, this line-up of the Temptations features Barrington Scott Henderson on lead vocals, and what a stunning lead singer he was! A great sax-drenched ballad it's welcome that it appears again here. The brassy "Friday" is another great vocal track and the vocal approach is a nod towards today's young buck RnB singer but the vocal harmonies are more akin to those usually adopted by George Nash and Eric Benét. The result? Superb! The remix with strings is also a lot warmer and a great track that stands separately. The beautifully sung "Just Another Day" would not be out of place on a Mojazz Norman Connors set, and I only wish we heard more from HIM! This is a really strong jazz set from the states, and trust me folks there ain't many of those about these days!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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