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The Meeting Place

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Album Review

Through all the roster fluctuation of smooth jazz artists on major labels, this Maryland based guitarist stayed in the loop for over 15 years with a consistently strong stream of releases on his own label, Positive Music, and two during a brief stay on Shanachie. While so many of the more renowned genre artists experienced creative and commercial highs and lows, Ken Navarro proved to be one of the most consistent in both arenas. His secret? An uncanny ability to compose breezy, delectable melodies, alternate between his usual acoustic and occasional electric lead voice, and produce strong ensemble-driven projects like The Meeting Place, his 16th release overall. Navarro's also into throwing attractive textural curveballs once in a while, as in the way he wraps the spirited, easy funk opener "Lucky" with a colorful string of sitar, swirled with Rob Holmes' sweet soprano sax. "Did You Hear That?" is classic top down summer weather acoustic Navarro fare all the way, but then he drops in Holmes' edgy tenor and his own fiery electric guitar solo. One of Navarro's key harmonic weapons over the hears has been the brilliant keyboardist Jay Rowe, who creates a colorful retro-flavored electric piano solo on the otherwise middle of the road "No Other Way." "My Beautiful Girls" bounces along magnificently on a bed of grooves and a touch of mystical synth magic, while the guitarist digs deeper on the thick soul grooves of the title track. The Meeting Place is a worthy addition to Navarro's singularly picture-perfect contemporary jazz catalog.


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 his...
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The Meeting Place, Ken Navarro
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