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Album Review

As this often rocking, sometimes romantic, brass-splashed collection demonstrates, the reason this talented composer and exciting and versatile guitarist isn't a bigger star on the smooth jazz scene has nothing to do with a lack of great recordings. His output of eight albums is spotty timewise because he spent years touring with Richard Elliot and others, and he has focused much of his time on his music education career. The youngest guitarist ever to head the guitar department at USC, he is a tenured professor and created the world's first doctoral program in jazz guitar. Here's hoping his students won't mind him taking more time off to record engaging efforts like this one, which more than lives up to its vibey name. The title track finds his seductive electric melody riding over a thick, thumping groove (courtesy of producer Brian Bromberg's always intense bass) as a horn section builds around and caresses it. Radio jumped early on the similarly brass-intensive take on Earth, Wind & Fire's "Sing a Song," but Smith's original material is more interesting, starting with the midtempo, hip-hop-flavored "Gotta Have You" (featuring a blend of acoustic and electric) and progressing with the playful funk of "Whatz Up?," penned with and featuring Jeff Lorber. The wild salsa jam "Latisimo" may be too sassy for smooth jazz radio, but it kicks things up a beautiful notch. Smith's discs traditionally feature a tough-edged rock-blues style punctuated with softer acoustic-based tunes that are pure sensuality. He wrote much of this material while living in Europe, and you can hear the romance of Italy on gems like "Beyond the Mountains" and "Intimato."

Soulidified, Richard Smith
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  • Partial Album
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Fusion
  • Released: 18 November 2003

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