Composer/arranger John Evans has been a master of smooth jazz for some 30 years, since he helped escort veteran saxophonist David Sanborn to RIAA gold with the composition “Creeper.” His previous solo release “Dream,” was an unqualified smash, where it topped the CD Baby sales chart in 2007 and remained in the top 10 of its Smooth Jazz Album chart for more than two years.
Sophomore CD “The Winding Road” on Studio Records LLC, again aligns Evans with his ensemble Dream, and keeps the genre’s fires burning -”if cool to the touch”- with a six-track triptych of gently swaying melodic embers.
Among the set’s most virtuous qualities is its attention to nuance and diversity in the arrangements. Album opener “Easy Love” adds a touch of harmonic vocals - courtesy of Rosana Eckert and Annagrey Labasse - to a pleasingly swaying percussive backdrop, a la playful 1960’s Herb Alpert; while “In A Gentle Way” is full-on radio-ready smooth jazz, calming and genial. Both tracks showcase Larry Spencer on flugelhorn and Ron Jones on soprano sax. Meanwhile, “Love Will Find A Way” features a sonic serenade from Jones and Larry Spencer on trumpet, interacting with one another like teasing inamorata; and “I Was A Fool,” composed by Evans, with lyrics by his wife Sandy, offers a full vocal performance that accompanies a sensual melody line including drummer Mike Collier and Jennifer Perryman with Jones on sax. “Tight Squeeze,” a highlight of “The Winding Road,” tosses a bossa nova vibe into the mix, with a Latin-infused arrangement that offers Jones an opportunity to shine on flute, with Spencer on horns. The title track closes the album like a luminescent mid-summer sunset: beautiful, calming and gentle on the senses.
Evans’ “Road” is destined to be traveled again and again. With each journey, listeners are sure to see new sites and hear new sounds. Just exceptional.