Home » Jazz Articles » Brian Simpson: South Beach

224
Album Review

Brian Simpson: South Beach

By

Sign in to view read count
Brian Simpson: South Beach
Sometimes you have to accept something for what it is. Keyboardist Brian Simpson's debut for Shanachie , South Beach, sounds like a thesis submitted to the College of Smooth Jazz. It hits all the tropes of the genre: plenty of tinkling keyboard melodies, funky bass n' drums riffs, sweet saxophone seasonings, and vanilla background vocals. That may seem like a criticism, but it's not; it is a recognition of what may have been on Simpson's checklist, and how successfully he scratches each off as the album proceeds.

Simpson plays pleasant, if innocuous, keyboards throughout South Beach, which is a perfect title for this warm and breezy album. Simpson's years as a session player, and as musical director for smooth jazz staple Dave Koz, provides him with both a familiarity with the genre and a lot of friends on his speed dial. Though Koz is missing, sax stylings are present throughout, provided by tenor saxophonist Euge Groove on "Lay It On Me," and Steve Alaniz on "All I Want Is You" and "Our Love."

Simpson really shines on "Old Friends," a pretty, piano-driven tune enlivened by George Duke's synthesizer solos. Duke, one of the icons of smooth jazz, makes a perfect mentor, and evidence of how closely Simpson has been paying attention abounds here.

This is essentially comfort food for the ears. It's simple, tasty and goes down easy, even if it never thrills the palate. Simpson isn't trying to chart a new course for smooth jazz as much as he's riding its wave; understanding that going makes South Beach as an enjoyable, if not especially memorable, way to spend 44 minutes.

Simpson's goal here is to deliver the grooves, and on that score he succeeds completely. South Beach sounds pretty good, caressing the ears, even if it doesn't leave a lasting impression on the mind.

Track Listing

South Beach; Can't Tell You Why; Lay It On Me; Never Without You (Shawndra's Song); Paradise Island; Old Friends; All I Want Is You; Our Love; Summer's End; Moonlit Ocean.

Personnel

Brian Simpson: piano & keyboards; Tony Moore: drums, drum programming; Michael White: drums (2, 3, 6-9); Oscar Sexton: drums (5); Alex Al: bass (1, 3-5, 7, 8); Smitty Smith: bass (2); Larry Kimpel: bass: (5); Ian Martin: acoustic bass (6, 9, 10); Agape Jerry: guitar (1, 3, 7); Darrell Crooks: guitar (2, 4-6, 10); Peter White: acoustic guitar (4); Yarone Levy: acoustic guitar (4, 8); Brian Kilgore: percussion (1, 4-6, 8-10); Lenny Castro: percussion (2, 3, 7); Ron King: flugelhorn (2), trumpet (9, 10); Euge Grove: tenor sax (3); Steve Alaniz: tenor sax (4, 7, 8); George Duke: synthesizer (6); Brenda Kay Pierce: vocals (5).

Album information

Title: South Beach | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Shanachie Records


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

Blue Note Re:imagined II
Various Artists
Soul Food
Christopher Parker
The Way of the Groove
Ben Patterson

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.