How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Eric Bolvin is a multi-tasker's multi-tasker. Not only is he one of the San Francisco Bay Area's busiest working trumpeters, but he's also exceptionally well-known and respected on the internet as a teacher, composer and publisher of brass-related methods. He's a one-man brand. With Workin' It, Bolvin gets back to his "toot roots" and delivers 14 - count 'em - very tasty smooth jazz and funk-rock selections.
The smooth jazz trumpet idiom has been the stronghold of Ric Braun, Greg Adams, Chris Botti and, in its earliest iterations, Miles Davis and Herb Alpert. With Workin' It,, Bolvin shows he has the goods to stand with those commercially better-known players. He plays with sensitivity, confident control, dead-on intonation and a savvy sense of pulse. Bolvin also shows an exceptional compositional and production talent; 11 tunes here are Bolvin originals. Sometimes, smooth jazz trumpet offerings are formulaic and as bland as vanilla. Not so here. Bolvin's selections never bore, or have one hoping for the next cut to be different.
The title tune kicks off the session with a catchy melodic line. Bolvin's Harmon mute sends off Stevie Wonder's "Rocket Love" nicely, and from then on his playing is all taste. "Belita" is a beautiful melody that could be a Hollywood movie love theme (ditto "Maxine" and "I Wondered What I Did Wrong"). Bolvin's slow tune tone and chops are engaging, never overbearing. His jazz-funk writing and playing ("Time Bomb," "Suburban Bourbon," "Corvair Crusader," and "One for Mike"), as well as that of the terrific supporting ensemble, cooks.
Backed by a terrific rhythm section including Fusion's Jeff Lorber, Bolvin and his mates keep the interest level high and involving throughout. The recording and production values are very good.
With Workin' It Bolvin presents smooth jazz at its smoothest.
Track Listing: Workin' It; Rocket Love; Time Bomb; Belita; Suburban Bourbon; Maxine; Waimea Canyon; I
Wondered What I Did Wrong; Panama Red; It Ain't No Use; Corvair Crusader; Monterey
Morning; One For Mike; Soulful Slumber.
Personnel: Eric Bolvin: trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, EVI flute, EVI harmonica, EVI trombone, EVI
sax, EVI synth, keyboards and programming; Tom Politzer: alto sax; Jeff Lorber: piano; John
R. Burr: piano; Lee Pardini: organ; Myron Dove: bass, piccolo bass; Nelson Braxton: bass;
Michael Renwick: guitar; Ken Harrill: guitar; Chris Cain: guitar; Billy Johnson: drums; Dennis
Chambers: drums; Timo Guitierrez: percussion; Margo Leduc: vocals; Tony Lindsay: vocals.