Although reedman Bryan Savage doesn't enjoy the same "household name" status in smooth circles as, say, Kenny G, Richard Elliot, or Dave Koz, he probably should, on the strength of recordings such as this. Yes, this CD is smooth jazz all the way, but Savage works the genre as agreeably as anyone. Whether on alto, soprano, or flute, Savage possesses a rich, expressive tone quality and improvises skillfully within the parameters of the tunes. As composer or co-composer of many of the songs, Savage displays the ability to create memorable melodies and sufficiently interesting arrangements. The rhythm tracks are a combination of programming (some by Savage) and live musicians, primarily his core band.
The program is mostly original, but smoothed-out renditions of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" and Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" are included to add a familiar touch. (The radio programmers will probably seize these two for their playlists in favor of one of Savage's worthy compositions.) Plus, "Coral Princess" is presented twice, the second time as a "3rd Force Remix", with William Aura providing "grooves and bass" and the remix. For my tastes, I think the remix is clunkier and more mechanical than the original. Thankfully, there are no cloying, saccharine vocals anywhere on the disc. So for those who are into smooth jazz, this tasteful disc is recommended. (Higher Octave Jazz HOJCD 50385)
Personnel: Bryan Savage - alto sax, soprano sax, flute, keyboards, programming; Mark Johnson, Bob Carpenter, John Bergeron - keyboards, programming; Howard Arthur, Burt Teague - guitar; Larry Thompson, John Pel - drums; Dave Hanson, Craig Dobbin - piano; Chris Engleman, David Stoltz, Vernon Barbary - bass; William Aura - grooves, bass.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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