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Brian Simpson: Persuasion

Jeff Winbush By

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There's jazz that is edgy, startling, daring, confrontational and demands attention be paid. It grabs you by the ears and pulls you close and won't let go. Then there's a kinda/sorta jazz where all the edges have been sanded off, there's no chances taken, no unexpected or startling moments, and nothing is ever at risk. If that's your thing, then Brian Simpson's Persuasion is here for you.

Simpson plays nice piano and there's some nice synths and nice drumming and nice bass playing and nice solos. It's all very nice and if all you want from your music is to play in the background and mind its manners, boy do I have a record for you. Each song starts up, does its thing and clocks out before it hits the five minute-limit. Jazz needs a certain amount of "anything can happen" unpredictability to hold true to its improvisational spirit, but there's nothing close to a spontaneous moment happening on Persuasion. Simpson plays instrumental background sounds instead of jazz. What's happening here is a little too polite, too tidy, and too safe for all but the most undemanding listener.

Two guys at the top of their craft, Boney James and Peter White, can improve nearly any song they play on, but their respective contributions, "Persuasion" and "Lost In Love" are so perfunctory they come off as something they ran in and tossed off in the studio while the limo was double parked. Working with Dave Koz over the years means Simpson probably has a a lot of popular names on speed dial, but when they show up they aren't given anything interesting to play.

This is the sort of "jazz" people who don't really like jazz play when they want to show they're hip to it when they aren't. Simpson makes the donuts efficiently, but Persuasion is so listless and blah you can't even work up the energy to hate on it.

Track Listing: Persuasion; Wonderland; One and Only; Lost In Love; Need You Now; Supernatural; Take It Up; Starbound; Surreal Theme; Always Here For You

Personnel: Brian Simpson: piano, keyboards; Steve Oliver: programming; Alex Al: bass; Kendall Glider: guitar; Ramon Ysas: percussion; Boney James: sax (1); Oliver Wendell: keyboards; Omari Williams: drums; Steve Alaniz: tenor sax (3, 9); Peter White: guitar (4); Darrell Crooks: guitar (6)

Title: Persuasion | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Shanachie Records

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