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Pacific Coast Highway

Nils

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Album Review

Although the veteran composer/guitarist's website could use a major update — it is contemporary to 1998 — he's right in the pocket of modern smooth jazz with his 2005 release. He comes with a solid pedigree in the genre, having recorded a duet with George Benson (who also once covered "Keep Rollin'," given a trippy-moody makeover here), and working with Rick Braun, Marcus Johnson and Gabriela Anders. But his all-star associations aren't as important as his facility for melody and groove, and he does well on both counts here, beginning with the bright, vibrant Norman Brown-like title track, playing it snappy and funky on "Back Pocket" and showing a more intimate side with "Coming Home." Lively, swinging breezy gems like "Cruisin'" show off a powerful ability to collaborate with some of the genre's best sidemen, including Abe Laboriel, Rob Mullins, Alex Acuña and Paul Jackson, Jr., whose influence on the guitarist is apparent throughout the project. While he's solid as a writer of radio-friendly tunes, he includes a few covers for variety, one a throbbing twist on "You've Got a Friend," the other a much more eventful and interesting bluesy jam on Toto's minor hit "Georgy Porgy." Whether Nils can break through to the genre elite is up in the air, but he's certainly got some good material here to start him on his way.

Pacific Coast Highway, Nils
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