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No Time to Waste

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Album Review

It isn't hard to tell who has influenced smooth jazz guitarist Dee Brown. The Detroit native obviously has a high opinion of George Benson, Earl Klugh, and Wes Montgomery, which is hardly unusual for a smooth jazz guitarist. Benson has influenced countless smooth jazz guitarists — his 1976 smash Breezin', in fact, is considered essential listening in smooth jazz circles — and one could easily argue that Montgomery's commercial 1965-1968 recordings with Creed Taylor (the albums he recorded after getting away from hard bop) marked the beginning of what came to be called smooth jazz. The thing that sets Brown apart from other smooth jazz guitarists is his willingness to inject gospel elements on occasion. However, if that sounds intriguing — Benson and Klugh by way of Andraé Crouch, Tramaine Hawkins, or the Clark Sisters — the reality is that most of No Time to Waste favors the type of run of the mill background music that smooth jazz/NAC stations are known for. Most of the time, Brown provides a predictable, formulaic mixture of pop, jazz, and R&B that was obviously recorded with rigid smooth jazz/NAC stations in mind. Improvisation is usually kept to a bare minimum, and once you get past the Christian imagery on tunes like "Before I Began" and "Wings of Love," there isn't a lot to separate No Time to Waste from countless other Benson-minded, Klugh-influenced smooth jazz guitar discs. But despite its shortcomings, this 2007 release does have its moments. "Sunday Jazz," a jewel of a song, combines jazzy Erykah Badu/Jill Scott-ish R&B with modern gospel elements — and tenor saxophonist Dave Henderson gets in some noteworthy solos on "Dee Brown's Place" and the opener "Blue Street." Brown and his sidemen are at their best when they aren't smothered by overproduction and have room to improvise, but unfortunately, excessive production prevails more often than not on No Time to Waste.

No Time to Waste, Dee Brown
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