San Francisco native Lloyd Gregory is the very essence of smooth jazz. His new recording, Free Fallin’, provides plenty of evidence. It is artfully slick, with an orchestra of effects and sounds to provide a plush foundation upon which guitarist performs his acoustic ruminations. The recording consists of two standards and ten well-conceived and performed originals. To have an idea of the tone of Mr. Gregory’s music, think of Earl Klugh crossed with Wes Montgomery and filtered through Lee Retinour and that might begin to break the surface.
Gregory is precisely melodic without being boring. On his originals "The New Song," "Maya," and the title song, Gregory’s guitar sounds sumptuous and sensual, communicating richness and warmth. His take on the two standards comes across the same way. "Round Midnight is rounded out and straightened up and played very tradtitionally; "I Loves You Porgy" receives the same respect. Short on improvisation but long on melody and grace, Lloyd Gregory infuses even old standards with his 21st Century charm. Free Fallin’ ought to have broad appeal for all fans of smooth jazz.