One things for sure this sounds like nothing you have heard before. What’s been the big complaint in Smooth Jazz? Everything sounds the same? Sometimes it does but this album covers so much territory it’s hard to describe it quickly.
Though Jim Samuel comes from a Rock and Roll background having spent the sixties in Bob Brady and the Conchords that early influence doesn’t quite bleed through here. Samuel’s not the man he was back then and since he left the industry so many years ago he’s a richer man now in more ways than money.
The highlight on NOW is clearly his collaborations with the legendary Gerald Albright on Ralph MacDonald’s classic “Mr Magic.” Popularized by the late great Grover Washington Jr. it first appeared on his fourth album and helped put the sax-man on the map. It’s doing the same for Samuel. Although recorded by stacks of Jazzer’s arguable the trademark version comes from Washington and his arranger/ keyboardist Bob James. Samuel deviates from the formula with a cleaner, less produced version. He’s not trying to out-due Grover – that would be impossible. Samuel delivers it in a smoother, middle of the road less Jazzy package. So far it’s proving to be his biggest hit.
Other gems on the CD include the gorgeous moody “Now That You’re Gone” featuring Tony Neenan on Flugelhorn and the romantic Latin influenced “Serena” with some help from guitarist Rob Tardik.
As the follow up to “Smooth Cover Smooth Dance” Samuel has upped his game and has the chart success to prove it. He’s bound to be inspired for chapter three – we can’t wait!
– by John Beaudin