How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Keyboardist Scott Wilkie has released a thoroughly enjoyable contempo outing on Narada Jazz. (Seems like all the labels that became identified primarily with the New Age movement in the 80s have now launched a xxx-Jazz sub-label - Windham Hill and Higher Octave also come to mind.) The CD contains a nice mix of up-tempo, energetic tunes such as the opener, "Sporty!" and the funky "Sailcats," alternating with mellower, more laid-back pleasures such as "Home Again" and "Rivertown" (the latter featuring a nice EWI solo by Jeff Kashiwa). The compositions are all by Wilkie, and while they break no new ground, they're competent and enjoyable. Wilkie strikes a nice balance between employing his working band of Matthew Van Doren (guitar), Nathan Brown (bass), and David Owens (drums), and augmenting them with the talents of studio heavies such as various current and former Rippingtons. And... no drum machines! Other highlights: a sensitive acoustic piano solo ("Reverie"), and some of the funkiest clavinet heard since the 70s in "Those." The album ends on a David Benoit-influenced burner called "Water Balloons." (Narada Jazz 47025)
Tracks: Sporty!; Home Again; Sailcats; Rivertown; Chasing the Dream; Nothing Yet; Reverie; Those; Song for Shari; Poolside; Water Balloons. (49:47)
Scott Wilkie (acoustic and electric piano, synthesizers, organ); Paul Jackson Jr., Matthew Von Doran, Russ Freeman, Chuck Yamek, Peter Sprague, Tom Strahle (guitars); Nathan Brown, John Patitucci, Alec Milstein (bass); Jeff Kashiwa (saxophone and EWI); David Owens (drums and percussion); Steve Reid (percussion); Penny Malley (vocals); Dave Kochanski (organ).