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Smooth Sensation

Ken Navarro

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Album Review

Compared to his flashier peers, Ken Navarro isn't one of those instrumentalists who get much attention. And yet, few contemporary jazz guitarists have charted as consistently with a style that rarely wavers from the sunny kind of charms the genre is founded upon. Unfortunately, after eight previous releases, he's pretty much competing with his own catalog on Smooth Sensation. Which is to say, he's still crafting seamless, easy beat tunes, ensembling with top players like Eric Marienthal, and showing enough spark on a few numbers to keep this project slightly more interesting than much of today's typical smooth jazz fare. A few tunes — most notably, the blues-edged "I'll Tell You What" and "Out of the Blue," featuring a potent synergy between Navarro, Marienthal, and keyboardist Jay Rowe — are among the catchiest and well performed in Navarro's catalog. The rest of the acoustic-based pieces are easy going down, but don't really make the kind of lasting impression he's been capable of in the past. The disc delivers on its titular promise, to be sure, but Navarro has kept us titillated longer in the past.

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Contemporary jazz guitarist Ken Navarro was born June 9, 1953, in Lafayette, IN; he began his career as a Los Angeles session player, working on projects headlined by everyone from Doc Severinsen to Nell Carter to Dave Koz. He made his solo debut in 1990 with The River Flows, issued on his own Positive Music imprint; the follow-up, After Dark, earned a Grammy nomination. Subsequent efforts include 1994's Pride & Joy, 1996's Christmas Cheer, 1998's Ablaze in Orlando, and 2000's Island Life. For...
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Smooth Sensation, Ken Navarro
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