The very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.
April 15, 2010
When I recently reviewed the new CD, ‘Realization’, from rising sax star Phillip ‘Doc’ Martin, an unexpected bonus was the discovery of his 2007 release ‘Pride And Joy’. Not only did the album herald in his own Saxtime Entertainment label but also contained a fine blend of well chosen covers and brand new music. Consequently, and to prevent this excellent ten track collection from being consigned to the folder titled ‘buried treasure’, it is not too late to look back to what is a splendid piece of work.
Martin gets things started with the comfortingly mid tempo ‘Always There’ that demonstrates his aptitude for a cool smooth jazz groove. The tune was composed by Allen TD Wiggins who is perhaps best known for his 1992 solo release ‘One Way’ and when Martin turns to the music of the great Smoky Robinson the result is a really hip interpretation of the classic ‘Cruzin’ where vocals are capably handled by Rick Melvern.
Much of the creative horsepower of ‘Pride And Joy’ comes from the combination of Martin and co-producer Tony Hemmings. They variously write or co-write no less than seven of the songs and a case in point is the smokily urban ‘Marvelous’ that finds Jarian in good vocal form. Another original number is ‘American Garden’ where, not for the only time, Hemmings is outstanding on keys and although Martin tends to operate within a predominately mid tempo register he is often at his best when choosing a mellower vibe.
This is particularly so with ‘Lullaby’ for which his velvety playing is top notch and again for ‘Shades Of Gray’ where the addition of evocative cello from Cindi Kornhaus dovetails to perfection with Martin’s hugely soulful sax. Elsewhere ‘It’s U’ takes Martin firmly back into mid tempo territory and although he stays there for the shuffling title cut he uses ‘After The Rain’ to deliver a wonderful example of restrained rhythm and melody.
Nashville guitarist Tom Hemby is featured on Joann Rosario’s ‘More’ for which Martin’s heartfelt delivery is really special yet a genuine Smooth Jazz Therapy favourite is his cover of Aaliyah’s R & B blockbuster ‘Rock The Boat’. Taken from her 2001 self titled release, that was one of the strongest urban soul records of its time, this version by Martin is right on the money.