Grady Nichols: Sophistication (2003)
Saxophonist Grady Nichols is drawing some attention since his fourth CD is produced by Jeff Lorber, mixed by Paul Brown and boasts both Lorber and trumpeter Chris Botti's playing. The attention is deserved. Nichols has a polished alto sax voice, which he prefers for the most part on these ten songs, all co-written by Nichols and Lorber. Lorber knows talent when he sees it, and this wonderfully smooth CD signals the arrival of a fresh new talent.
Nichols’ sax style is similar to Euge Groove’s, and although he doesn’t provide as many hooks as Groove, Nichols' main asset thus far is his superb playing. He obviously knows his way around his instrument, and isn’t afraid to hold long notes and dip and groove with those notes, all the while staying within the framework of his songs and never losing the melody. His alto works best, but he does switch to soprano on “Within the Blue“ and “Quiet Times.” But the alto is what he does best, which he shows on “Tuesday Morning,” the memorable radio hit “All Right,” “Livin’ the Life,” and “End of the Night,” which he duets with Botti to make some delightful sounds.
While there’s plenty of generic sax stuff out there, Nichols is able to make a thoroughly modern smooth jazz recording without sounding derivative. That’s an accomplishment.
Track Listing: Tuesday Morning; Livin' the Life; Sneak; End of the Night; All Right; Dinner and a Movie; Within the Blue; Behind the Scenes; Circle of Friends; Alone With You; Quiet Times
Personnel: Grady Nichols (alto, tenor, soprano sax); Jeff Lorber (keyboards, programming); Ray Fuller (guitar); Chris Botti (trumpet); Paul Pesco (guitar); Gene Morrison (trombone); Bill Gable (trumpet, Rhodes); Rich Gable (flute);