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Back to the Groove

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Album Review

Most independent smooth jazz artists know how hard it is to secure airplay amidst the bigger names and major labels, and so arrange their tracks to queue the most radio-friendly first. This versatile San Diego guitarist with the unmistakable Larry Carlton influence is a bit bolder — he explodes from the beginning. "Mr. Mikio" is a feisty, aggressive, funk jam, loaded with intense flourishes of synth brass and crackling, rock-edged guitars. All of that is in service of a solid melody, but it's hardly play-it-safe "smooth." Once we're all prepared for more energy of this variety, Yandall settles into a more laid-back mode, which in his case still allows for much creative improvising and a slick electric style that's hard to resist. The difference is, he subjects it to more commercial trappings as on "Your Move," which features soothing gospel-flavored vocals and the softening influence of Fattburger members Carl Evans, Jr. (keys) and Hollis Gentry (sax). "Yukiye" follows in a similar mode, crisp and colorful guitar struggling to break free from a downright mystical setting. Tunes like "The Joy of You" reveal more of his gentler side. His cover of Ambrosia's "You're the Only Woman" is the perfect mix of edge and cool, and "Slow Change" is the requisite vocal. Overall, Yandall offers a nice balance, even if the fire promised in the beginning is somewhat muted as the hour goes by.

Back to the Groove, Patrick Yandall
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