Arrow Highway by Playtime Ė reviewed by Chris Mann
is a smooth jazz project founded by Detroit area session pros Brian
Brill (who can be heard on piano and keyboards throughout the album)
and Robert Tye (whose talent on electric and acoustic guitars is such
a feature of this set).
soloists featured include Mark Kieme on soprano sax and Rich Illman on
trumpet. "Red Arrow
Highway" was mixed at Hinge Studios in Chicago by Craig Bauer.
Bauer has mixed and recorded many prominent smooth jazz
artists, including Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson and Steve Cole.
just did some reading and found that Red Arrow Highway is otherwise
known as US 12 and runs through Harbor County, Michigan.
So these guys are flying the flag for their stateÖ
strong keyboard bass grabs you from the start on The New Boss. The keyboards are great all the way through the song but here
that lovely semi-acoustic guitar carries all before it.
You even get a George Benson-style guitar/vocal scat.
Itís tight, funky and just the bomb!
Thereís a straighter disco beat on Paris Nights, the
keyboards are still good and space-y and thereís that tough
backbeat. That Peter
White-style acoustic guitar floats over the top and I can feel the
summer heat. I canít
repeat the word I wrote in my rough notes Ė letís just say itís
gorgeous. Even the breakdowns in this song donít disturb the lovely
tempo drops for the dreamy Ways of the Heart, which has a
seductive synth bassline and Mark Kiemeís pure-toned soprano sax.
I hear a mechanical rhythm but when songwriting is this good
and you have the smooth jazz Holy Grail Ė groove and melody
Ė going on, it doesnít matter.
So coolÖ The
Promise is a gentle acoustic guitar led ballad.
The whole accompaniment is lovely, especially Brillís piano. The song has immaculate structure and the strongest of
up Ronny Jordan fans! Colorful
World is as gorgeous a slice of mellow acid jazz as youíre gonna
hear this year! The taut
acoustic bassline and the crazy dancing cymbals mean you canít keep
still to this. Great guitar and vibes too Ė rewind!! This version of Todd Rundgrenís Can we Still be Friends
takes you somewhere very special and cosy.
Maybe this is one song which could have benefited from the
touch of a human drummer. Still,
the way the notes from that acoustic guitar and that flute hang in the
air make any negative slant from me seem very petty.
A bass clarinet sneaks in and delights you just over halfway
up Incognito fans! Tight
drums, deft percussion, Rich Illmanís trumpet and an old skool
jazz-funk feel truly wow you on this killer title track.
Iím due to be driving through the Nevada desert a week or so
after writing this. Itíll
either be playing in my stereo or in my head.
Still awake Incognito fans?
The semi-acoustic guitar gets serious and low down over a funky
bassline and a drum track that really means business.
Tough but mellow Ė funky and jazzy.
Lost in Nice. Iím
in heaven. Rewind!! I guess
you worked this out, but years of hearing music on tape means I have
to rewind to the start of any song I really love Ė thank God
is totally original and again the sound of that jazz guitar is dark.
These guys bring out the best in guitar and keyboards and every
line belongs and complements every other line.
The Indian percussion sounds top off an already delicious mix.
The closer, Bedtime Stories, is a smooth urban gem.
The muted trumpet is sexy, the Marcus Johnson-style piano stays
this side of predictable and the chords played on other backing
keyboards are perfect for a last song.
What do I mean by that? On
this sort of CD Ė a top-class contemporary jazz CD Ė the last
track should remind you of everything you liked about the album, it
should make you want to start over on track 1 and it should leave you
with a warm glow. Three
out of three, guys!
can I say? Iím glad
that Brill and Tye got together and found a guy like
Craig Bauer to get it all down on tape.
This is an outstanding CD, which contains the most consistently
good music Iíve heard in over two years.
You can visit CDBaby.com
to find out a little more and order the CD.