How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Although reedman Bryan Savage doesn't enjoy the same "household name" status in smooth circles as, say, Kenny G, Richard Elliot, or Dave Koz, he probably should, on the strength of recordings such as this. Yes, this CD is smooth jazz all the way, but Savage works the genre as agreeably as anyone. Whether on alto, soprano, or flute, Savage possesses a rich, expressive tone quality and improvises skillfully within the parameters of the tunes. As composer or co-composer of many of the songs, Savage displays the ability to create memorable melodies and sufficiently interesting arrangements. The rhythm tracks are a combination of programming (some by Savage) and live musicians, primarily his core band.
The program is mostly original, but smoothed-out renditions of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" and Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" are included to add a familiar touch. (The radio programmers will probably seize these two for their playlists in favor of one of Savage's worthy compositions.) Plus, "Coral Princess" is presented twice, the second time as a "3rd Force Remix", with William Aura providing "grooves and bass" and the remix. For my tastes, I think the remix is clunkier and more mechanical than the original. Thankfully, there are no cloying, saccharine vocals anywhere on the disc. So for those who are into smooth jazz, this tasteful disc is recommended. (Higher Octave Jazz HOJCD 50385)
Personnel: Bryan Savage - alto sax, soprano sax, flute, keyboards, programming; Mark Johnson, Bob Carpenter, John Bergeron - keyboards, programming; Howard Arthur, Burt Teague - guitar; Larry Thompson, John Pel - drums; Dave Hanson, Craig Dobbin - piano; Chris Engleman, David Stoltz, Vernon Barbary - bass; William Aura - grooves, bass.