Monday, 22 March 2010

Roger Smith - Sittin' In - 2010

Pianist Roger Smith returns with another well-crafted and tasteful set of jazzy tunes inflected and spiced up with soul. The man knows that variety is the spice of life and on all tracks we are not allowed to snooze off, doze, lose interest or deviate. The sheer energy and vibe of his keyboard skills paired with real live instrumentation and variety of instrumental solos keeps my interest up. You know how scathing I can be towards today's staid US jazz scene- well this cynical and oft poisonous opinion doesn't stretch to this album. Admittedly, though, if comparing with his last album then it may not meet the same high standards, but it sure towers over much of what passes as competition. The opening song is one that allows all soloists to shine - so if you are a fan of sax and organ then this will be your cup of tea without a doubt. To me, it is reminiscent of recent funkier works from the likes of Brian Culbertson, Bob Baldwin, Bobby Lyle and Jeff Lorber. "Just Friends" applies a similar formula, added to which we find some tasteful female vocals.

"Isn't It Love?" is a corker - vocals that ooze the smoothness of Chris Walker but the soaring ability of Glenn Jones. This is a great track complete with organ, piano and rhythm guitar. the vocal flirting between the Karen White-ish Carol J. Toca and La Jon Walker are tantalising and works great in the bubbly and inventive setting. "Music Is Love" is another track I can highly recommend. Written and co-produced by the excellent Curtis Ohlson - he, and along with Rosie Gaines, of "A Thousand Years" fame - this song may not be a fully-fledged vocal but has more atmosphere than one of Sly Stone's parties! "Sweet Lady" is produced by Derek "D.O.A." Allen and has a great Marion Meadows feel, complete with sexy female backing vocals. The best instrumental cut for me is the interesting "Searchin'" which chugs along with sax, guitar and even the mere ghost of a rock guitar. This has texture and plenty of promise. Interesting that New Edition's superb 1988 effort "Can You Stand The rain" is covered, with vocals courtesy of Philip Ingram. A great track and different but doesn't touch the original. This will go down a storm on stations such as Jazz FM, and fans of strong vocals will also dig this. Check it out.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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