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Inside World

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Album Review

By 2005, it was a common complaint among smooth jazz insiders and fans that the format was too bland and controlled, and there was, perhaps, too much of an emphasis on smooth jazz radio stations for playing format "legends" rather than giving indie talent a break. Veteran guitar sideman J. Thompson is one of the few independent musicians to breakthrough with his 2003 release Romantic Night being voted the number one most-played indie CD of 2003 by smoothjazz.com, and his song "Tell Me the Truth" hitting the Top Ten on the airplay charts. That success should continue with Inside World, an amiable collection which opens with the crisp and catchy electric guitar-driven gem "Marché Marché," and chills the night with the obvious first single, the thoughtful and romantic "Tale of Tiernan." That dual vibe of energetic light funk and graceful ballads permeates the disc, whose standout tracks include the bright, rockin' blues-tinged "So Sexy" and the bubbly retro-soul tune "Gimme Sum." For more adventurous listeners, a few cuts take Thompson out of the radio-ready zone, particularly the more trad jazz-minded, drum brush and synth-harmonica driven shuffle (which sounds kind of like a cute TV theme), and the anthemic rock ballad closer "One Day," which calls to mind some of Neal Schon's more brilliant solo work in the later '90s.

Inside World, J. Thompson
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