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It's On Tonight (iTunes Version)

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Album Review

Many smooth jazz artists are leading double lives. On-stage, they conduct themselves like real improvisers; they stretch out, they blow, and they savor the joys of interacting with real musicians in real time. But their studio recordings are another matter. In the studio, they go out of their way to avoid the slightest hints of spontaneity and carefully avoid doing anything that might jeopardize their exposure on NAC/smooth jazz radio stations. Clearly, the play-for-radio approach prevails on this 2005 release, which has "commercial NAC radio" written all over it. Pianist/keyboardist Brian Culbertson (who also plays trumpet, trombone, and percussion) is by no means a bad musician; he definitely has chops, and he has the potential to provide a killer soul-jazz album in the tradition of Gene Harris and Joe Sample (two of his influences). But It's On Tonight, like much of Culbertson's work, favors a very innocuous, totally predictable blend of jazz, R&B, and pop. The material is pleasant background music — nothing horrible, but far from an adequate reflection of Culbertson's skills as an improviser. Singer Patti Austin has a likable spot on the urban/adult contemporary item "Love Will Never Let You Down" (one of the few vocal offerings on a mostly instrumental CD), and trumpeter Chris Botti's appearance on "Secret Affair" gives that track a bit of Miles Davis-influenced mystery. Botti, for all his commercialism, has more integrity than most people in the smooth jazz/NAC field (which isn't saying much given how appallingly low the genre's standards have generally been since the '80s — at least when it comes to studio recordings). It's On Tonight does have its moments, but Culbertson is capable of much more.

Customer Reviews

Funky B

It's on Tonight is a great piece of work by BC. It has some smooth/funky vibes that give you that slight sexy bounce on songs one and two and moves into more sexy relaxed vibes from the third song out. B. is one of the hardest working SJ artists' in the game that never seems to get tired. He continually tours giving 110% with each performance and loves his fans by signing autographs after each show as time permits. He mentors folks like his current sax man, 23 year old Eric Darius. The two of them together on stage is nothing short of spectacular. Although you hear the cd/radio version of It's on Tonight, the live show does not even compare. Catch BC tearin' it up with his high energy performance taking command of the stage and often dueling back and forth with his dad, Jim Culbertson (Brian's dad and trumpet player), Eric Darius (sax) and Jorge (Brian's guitar player). As for Brian reaching out, he has proven that he can improvise by being pulled out of the audience by Nick Colionne during his performance on the 2005 All Star Cruise. Brian came down on stage, sat down at the keyboard and played some little funky piece. The crowd went wild....During the many jam sessions on board the ship, Brian would often come out and jam with the other performancers, Mindi Abair, Nick Colionne, Marion Meadows and Peter White just to name a few. What you can do if you are not satisfied with what Radio plays, come on board the 2007 cruise and see these perfomers play from their hearts. You will not be disappointed.

It Depends...

I rated this one right up the middle because its value lies in the eyes (ears) of the beholder. If your tastes lie in the typical smooth jazz sound being offered up these days then you'll love this one and would probably rate it as five stars. However, if you long for the days when jazz artists showed you a little piece of their soul through their music then this album will leave you right where most do these days. Culbertson is capable of so much more.

Intimate Communications!

This album is ideal for music lovers who enjoy creating an intimate environment to that special someone you just want to lay back and chill with.


Born: January 12, 1973 in Decatur, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Even though Brian Culbertson might be categorized as jazz lite, his music has enough "oomph" to keep you interested. The talented composer, arranger, keyboardist, and trombonist displayed a talent beyond his years at an early age, and credits his dad with helping him develop an ear for the type of music he makes. His father, Jim Culbertson, a respected high school jazz band director and trumpeter, cultivated a love of sanguine sounds in the young Brian, who eagerly listened to anything his dad put...
Full Bio
It's On Tonight (iTunes Version), Brian Culbertson
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Customer Ratings