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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

New Single Review: The Smooth Jazz Alley

Artist: The Smooth Jazz Alley

Single: Deep Into You / Feat. Blake Aaron

Release: 2022

The Smooth Jazz Alley is a San Fransisco based trio that is made up of keyboardist Marco Montoya, drummer Kevin Lewis and saxophonist Otoe Mori. The band employs a stable of fantastic guest musicians to fill in the spaces. They have been steadily producing top notch smooth jazz and funk infused R&B that has consistently charted well at radio and has generated over a million streams on Spotify. They were also on the 59th and 63rd Grammy ballots. This track has all the elements of a classic contemporary jazz track. Groove, great musicianship, catchy melodies, thick production and a tasteful delivery. The song was composed by Marco Montoya and Greg Chambers. The band and composition are as solid as they come, lacking absolutely nothing. Otoe Mori's alto sax work is impeccable. Fantastic tone and flawless execution should put her name next to the well known masters of the genre like Andy Snitzer and Gerald Albright. Although the saxophone is the focus of this track, I can't say enough about the rhythm section. Not only did drummer Kevin Lewis provide the beat, but he also is credited as the executive producer. His drumming is like a clock. His meter is evidence of a musician that has spent years with a metronome. The bass line provided by Roberto Vally is perfection. It has it's own place in the mix with warm round tone. His line adds considerable movement to the track without interfering with the overall vibe of the song. The subtle coloring that keyboardists Marco Montoya and Matt Godina add cannot go unmentioned. They provide a wonderful lush pad for the whole band to play on. Guest guitarist Blake Aaron adds the unmistakable fingerprint of a pro. His playing has always been interesting and steeped in taste. His sweet tone and call and response fills compliment the main melodies as well as anyone could. The guitar so naturally fills the spaces in the sax line, popping up only when needed. His lead playing is clever and a bit slippery. It is clear he has substantial chops, but he doesn't flaunt them. Instead choosing to add his spice to the mix without being overbearing at any time, but always present. Often in the smooth jazz genre the music can be very sterile, relying on drum loops and virtual instruments. This track is proof that it doesn't need to be that at all. This song ebbs and flows with a pulse and breath. The tempo is spot on, helping to create a deeply pocketed band that all support a tremendous sax melody. They sound like a band that listened to the first wave of great smooth jazz. Artists that had real musicians playing at the highest level and complimenting one another with their parts. Names like Lee Ritenour, David Sanborn, Nathan East and Najee come to mind. Real players, playing real instruments that create a sound that is bigger than its parts. Smooth as glass, but somehow still sassy and funky. If this new single "Deep Into You" is evidence of what's to come from the next album I can't wait to hear the remaining tracks!

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