Artist: The Smooth Jazz Alley
Song: Brisa Del Mar
The Smooth Jazz Alley is a San Francisco Bay area smooth jazz outfit. Their music is a wonderful blend of Jazz, R&B, Soul and Funk. The band has consistently released high caliber smooth jazz and adult contemporary instrumentals over the last several years. This cut is another stellar example of the mature virtuosity the band has become known for.
Like the last EP "Here's The Thing" every sonic detail is addressed on this single Brisa Del Mar, which clocks in at 4:25. The musicians weave in and out of one another's lines gracefully, displaying restraint and subtle virtuosity at every turn. It is the kind of musicianship that only comes with exceptional listening skills. The ability to hear and react in real time to serve the greater good is on full display. The greater good being the song itself.
One of the things that I find refreshing about The Smooth Jazz Alley is the presence of a real drummer, playing real drums, with real conviction. So much smooth jazz is recorded to drum loops these days that it is easy to forget how much life acoustic drums breath into the overall vibe of the piece. The groove laid down by Kevin Lewis has all the subtleties of a great drummer with serious chops, but never over-extending. The groove is perfectly garnished by percussionist Karl Perazzo. In the immortal words of the great Steve Gadd, "if you don't have two and four, you don't have anything" and Kevin Lewis seems to completely understand the importance of the concept.
The piano part provided by founding member Marco Montoya bounces delightfully throughout. His playing pops through in the mix in spots displaying his deep understanding of the genre. The push and pull that naturally happens in supporting the other musicians while simultaneously peeking through the mix to show his casual mastery of the instrument is quite compelling. This is a player that has clearly studied the details of the classic Latin jazz grooves such as sambas and bossa novas and what the pianists roll is within them.
There is a tasteful guitar line throughout the production provided by Marc Antoine that is in a constant state of flirtation with the ensemble, occasionally coming to the forefront of the mix to add another distinct color to the portrait. It takes only a few bars to understand why Marc Antoine has had the career he has. His fingerprint is unmistakable on this production.
At first listen the saxophone line provided by Jessy J is the clear focus. But after repeated listening the sax player seems to get as many lines as her co-stars. Proof again that The Smooth Jazz Alley is truly an ensemble effort. This song is a masterclass in how to make a smooth jazz ensemble work. This song is a shining example of the sum being greater than any of its parts. A truly inspiring and relaxing listen from a fantastic band! If you enjoy smooth jazz that's a little old school in performance but captured with modern production you will undoubtedly enjoy Brisa Del Mar.
Drums: Kevin Lewis
Piano / Keys: Marco Montoya
Latin Percussion: Karl Perazzo
Saxophone: Jessy J
Guitar: Marc Antoine
Bass: Roberto Vally