More smooth Jazz, albeit with a more discernible pulse than some we’ve heard. Although axophonist Ed Calle, who was born in Venezuela, blends Latin rhythms to spice his music, it has been no less carefully sanitized for your protection. In other words, it remains closely related to Kenny G, in spite of Calle’s impressive credentials and his assertion that his goal as a musician is “to appeal to as many people as I possibly can without selling out or playing music that’s overly simplistic.” Well, one out of three is better than nothing. Look, the guy can play the saxophone, and I can’t, so he’s one up on me there. But for one whose early influences included Trane, Bird, Dizzy, Joe Henderson and Sonny Rollins, Calle’s musical vocabulary seems, shall we say, somewhat rudimentary. On the other hand, he is probably doing what he intends to do exceedingly well. He has, we are told, already scored one top–five smooth Jazz hit, “Me and Mrs. Jones,” and there may be another one (or more) on Sunset Harbor.
To help ensure that, he has recruited his friend, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, to play eight uninterrupted bars on “San Sebastian” and uses all manner of smooth Jazz staples elsewhere, from vocal choir, strings and synthesizers to various kinds of “programming” (simulated instruments). Calle himself, as you’ll note, plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones as well as EWI, alto flute and synthesizer bass (whatever that is) while banking even more currency by singing on “Sunset Harbor.” For what it is, this is perhaps well above the norm. I wouldn’t know. What I can report is that it is smooth Jazz with all its usual trappings. If that pleases you, you are welcome to it.
Track listing: Strollin’; Sunset Harbor; Nightfall; Reasons; Suds; Marianne; San Sebastian; Colour My World; Rum & Coke (Cuba Libre); Home Again; Rachel’s Song (56:13).
Collective personnel: Ed Calle, tenor sax, soprano sax, alto sax, baritone sax, EWI, alto flute, synthesizer bass, vocals; Tony Concepcion, Arturo Sandoval, Jim Hacker, Jason Carder, Alan Hood, trumpet; Dana Teboe, John Hutchison, John Kricker, trombone; Joe Barati, bass trombone; Jim Gasior, Mike Levine, Steve Roitstein, keyboards, synthesizers; Mike Levine, electric piano; Paquito Hechavarria, acoustic piano; Doug Emery, strings, synthesizers, organ; Dan Warner, Lindsey Blair, Rene Luis Toledo, Hiram Bullock, Tommy Anthony, guitar; Julio Hernandez, Rafael Valencia, bass; Lee Levin, drums, drum and percussion programming; Tim Devine, drum loop programming, synthesizers; Richard Bravo, percussion; Wendy Pederson, George Noriega, Rita Quintero, Tommy Anthony, vocals.