All musical genres fall prey to formula. Smooth Jazz, with its high radio-visibility quotient, perhaps succumbs more often than others. It’s refreshing, then, when a group brings something different to the table. Happily, this is the case with Citrus Sun.
Produced by guitarist Jean Paul Maunick, founder of the popular Acid-Jazz band Incognito, Citrus Sun is a well-founded ensemble of players whose attention focuses on details, rather than grandstanding. In addition to fellow Incognito members Julian Crampton on bass, and Richard Bailey on drums, former Average White Band guitarist Jim Mullen furthers the British soul perspective in the music. Mullen’s work throughout is a joy to hear, his light, soulful tone enlivening such tracks as “Tanya’s Song” and “Somewhere, Nowhere.” A four-man horn section is used with taste rather than blast, as on “What It Is,” where they mesh well with Dave Baldwin’s imaginative synth colors.
Also notable is Graham Harvey’s electric piano, whose sound harkens back to the days of Joe Sample’s work with the Crusaders. The group’s refusal to bother with the dictates of broadcast architecture is amply exemplified by the eight and a half-minute closer, “Mellowed.” The track opens with a long, almost progressive-rock-like fizzle of synth and programmed keyboards, and proceeds to groove along nicely until a mid-section of glistening interstellar space prompts a band member to say, “What’s going on here? It’s an interesting picture.” Interesting, indeed.