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Nick Colionne: Keepin' It Cool

Jeff Winbush By

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Nick Colionne sounds like a lot of guys. You'll hear a bit of George Benson here and a snatch of Wes Montgomery there, Jonathan Butler or Earl Klugh somewhere else. But that doesn't mean Colionne isn't original. It's just obvious that his style of playing has been influenced by other guitar greats.

Colionne has been releasing albums since 1994, but Keepin' It Cool, his first release on a major label, is his big coming-out party. Featuring backing by professional session musicians and more hooks than a fisherman's convention, this record should effectively broaden his audience.

Colionnne benefits tremendously from a crystal-clear mix which places his guitar front and center on the lead-off track, "Can You Feel It." The funky "Keepin' It Cool" and "Always Thinking of You" which follow make apparent the plan for this album: keep it moving, keep it short (no song is over five minutes in length), and give Colionne plenty of opportunities to showcase his technique.

The album does have a minor drawback: it's too calculated and overly radio-friendly. On a few too many songs, the music just trails off, even while Colionne is still playing. The seeming desire to fit in the tight format of smooth jazz radio effectively limits Colionne from flexing his musical muscles. There's nothing here that really demands that the listener lean forward and pay attention to the music. Too often Colonne plays it safe, leading to an abundance of sameness, with little to distinguish one tune from another.

Colionne deserves credit for avoiding the quick fix of a hit pop cover or cooing female backup vocalists. He does take a stab at the Brook Benson classic "Rainy Night In Georgia," where he adds some very nice vocals.

There's no doubt that Colionne can play. Hopefully, Keepin' It Cool will do well, and next time out Colionne will push both himself and the listener a bit more than he does here. While it's possible what you hear is what you get from Nick Colionne, I still have a nagging doubt that he's holding back. We've heard what he can do to keep it cool. Maybe next time he will show what he can do to make it hot.

Track Listing: Can You Feel it; Keepin' It Cool; Always Thinking of You; If You Ask Me; You were There For Me; This Is the Song; John L; From Me to You; A Moment With You; Liquid; Catch Me; Rainy Day in Georgia; High Flyin'.

Personnel: Nick Colionne: guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, programming, bass, vocals; John Biasucci: keyboards, programming, Hammond B-3; Richard Patterson: bass; Khari Parker: drums, Lenny Castro: percussion; Ricky Peterson: Hammond B-3; Larry Kohut: bass; Steve Cole: keyboards, programming, tenor sax, flute; Alan Hinds: rhythm guitar; Johnathan DuBose Jr.: rhythm guitar, Dale Prasco: accoustic guitar; Chris Miskel: drums; Joe Rendon: percussion; Mike Logan: piano. Fender Rhodes; Dave Hiltebrand: bass.

Title: Keepin' It Cool | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Narada Jazz

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