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Jay Leach: Cleared for Takeoff (2006)

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Jay Leach: Cleared for Takeoff How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Favoring smooth jazz as a means to communicate with a larger audience, guitarist Jay Leach interprets a program of originals and covers with the help of a crew that numbers over 25. While it's a large group of players, their sound remains smooth and mellow.

Leach was Barry Manilow's guitarist at the peak of the singer's career in the late 1970s. From that experience, he gained a strong sense of what kinds of melodies move people. He wants his message to last, to go off with his audience and stay with them.

Justo Almario adds a lovely piccolo melody to "I Just Want to Celebrate to start things off. The small vocal choir adds a pleasant mood. The album's sultry title track, "Cleared for Takeoff, features Kirk Whalum's tenor saxophone with Leach's smooth guitar. On "Behind the Veil, synthesizers and a wall-to-wall surround sound form a mellow circle around Leach's guitar. His smooth textures lead to peaceful landscapes. "All the Heavens features pedal steel guitar, which allows the leader to express solemnly with a country & western sizzle. "Eternal Father closes the program with Tommy Morgan on harmonica and Leach on acoustic guitar with strings in solemn prayer.

These days, Leach plays contemporary Christian music. Of his goal, he says, "I want to make music that glorifies God and not music that perpetuates hate.

Track Listing: I Just Want to Celebrate; Cleared for Takeoff; Lovelight; Lets Talk It Over; More Than Happy; Viva Alegre; Simple Things; Love You So Much; Poiema; Behind the Veil; All the Heavens; Eternal Father (The Navy Hymn).

Personnel: Jay Leach: guitar; Abe Laboriel: bass; Chester Thompson: drums; Ritchie Gajate-Garcia: percussion; Alex Acua: drums, percussion; Otmaro Ruiz: piano, synthesizer; Bill Cantos: keyboard; Justo Almario: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Kirk Whalum: tenor saxophone; Mike Watts: synth programming & vocal samples; Tommy Morgan: harmonica; Sid Page: violin, concertmaster; Arman Garabedian, Eve Butler, John Wittenberg, Rebecca Bunell: violin; Denyse Buffum, Nancy Roth: viola; Larry Corbett, Rudy Stein: cello; Dave Stone: double bass; Larry Kenton, Jey Kenton, Rick Riso, Cathy Riso, Diana Acua, Regina Acua-Williams: vocals.

Record Label: Playlist Record Company

Style: Contemporary/Smooth


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