In the past I have frequently reviewed albums of the American Smooth Jazz market, which is obviously dominating this genre. But one should not forget the European Smooth Jazz artists. In the next months I will tell you more about these artists, especially about those with connections to USA. Most of you will know, that JazzFM in London is the birth-cell of the European Smooth Jazz. Without this radiostation Smooth Jazz in Europe would still have a shadow-existence.

European labels have taken great part to this positive development. My thanks concerns to these entrepreneurs who take the risks to investigate in a rather unknown genre. Well, it must be a passion to spend a lot of money for music which will never be designed for the big business. One of these labels is Passion Music. This is their own description of the label:

"Passion Music LTD is a company founded in 1983 by partners Les McCutcheon and Nigel Wright. In the beginning, both Les and Nigel had already enjoyed success with the group Shakatak.
Les had the idea, brought the players together and signed them with Polydor, Nigel taking creative control and becoming an integral member of the group as well as their producer. The fruits of their labour were invested in Passion Music, originally a high energy label called Passion.

Today Passion Music is still at the cutting edge of the contemporary jazz /dance/soul music scene, with artists like the 1998 Mobo live jazz winners the Jazz Steppers on their Passion Jazz label, as well as established acts like Shakatak, through to Future Sound of London, and Howard Hewitt."

Among other incredible fine music artists Passion Music presents the group The Jazzsteppers. The Jazz Steppers are Klay Dumas-Copas, Pat Leacock, Dean Mark and Tony Smith, all of whom have worked as top class session musicians in addition to their work together. Front man and keyboard player Klay has worked with Diana Brown, Jocelyn Brown and Ray Gaskins. Drummer and percussionist Pat Leacock has played with Down To The Bone, Joey Negro and Peter Andre. Bass player Dean Mark has played with Jamiroquai, Roy Ayers, Philip Bent, Noel McCoy and Vivian McKone while Tony Smith has played guitar with Ray Gaskins, Jocelyn Brown and Nelson Rangel. Klay Dumas-Copas has left the group. He isn't to find in the liner notes of the second album. Newcomer is Ashley Kingsley on keyboards.

Their album The Next Step is the second one after their debut album Get Up! 
Feeling U 
starts with Tony Smith's acoustic guitar riffs on a whispering vocal background filled with a wobbling keyboards sound texture. The group buildt up a tense atmosphere with Street Jazz elements. The affinity to Roy Ayers is not to be overlooked. 

Full Circle is the following uptempo tune with a strong rhythm feeling dominated by Pat Leacock's bass drum and modified rim shots. The melody line is anew presented by Tony Smith's outstanding guitar solo. Strings and vibes are rounding up the sound.

Take It Slow is the next title and indeed a slow tempo guitar solo with melodic keyboards vibes. A short interlude as a preparation for the next tune.

Wahwah guitar sound and vibe on a hip-hop rhythm are the incredients of L.A. drive.
Dean Mark - the bassist - is playing a guitar solo accompanied by Ashley Kingsley on Synth solo. Vocal scating as background.

Octaves Apart rise the tempo to a funky tune with some vocal additions.

The typical mixture of vibes and guitar solo shapes also To The Bone

Nafisa is a short interlude played in by Dean Mark on different keyboards. 

Tony Smith's acoustic guitar is to hear on Insides Your Eyes, a romantic slow tune. The group likes to add to most of their tunes vocal accomplishments.

End OF Story is the next interlude, this time played in by Ashley Kingsley on keyboards and organs. Lisa Silgardi adds strange sound modified words.

Bella Lisa is the next atmospheric follow-up. Keyboard-vibes, percussions and vocals are weavering to a dreamy soundscape. Interrupted by an uptempo guitar-solo and sing-song.

Give Me The Night  is a cover version of George Benson's great hit on the same titled album which was released in 1980 on the Warner Bros. label. The Jazzsteppers realize a new very interessant modification on the height of this time. 

Reflections is an uptempo tune in the garment of the Philly sound.

Finishing tune is the title song The Next Step. On this tune all members show anew their qualities and the melody is hooking.

This album is a must-buy for all friends of Contemporary Jazz in his melodic variation. If you don't know how to buy the album, here the webaddresses: (their label) or (affilated label).


More info: (under construction)








The Next Step