Saturday, July 28, 2012

Steve Oliver World Citizen SOM 2012


In 2010, Steve Oliver and Global Kiss scored two number one hits in the often maligned radio format that is smooth jazz.Oliver is a talented instrumentalist, dedicated and incredibly enthusiastic when it comes to his craft...World Citizen is however more of a sonic middle ground if not middle finger to those that take serious issue with the overly formatted and pretentious drivel that some artists continue to try and make a living from. Oliver's vocals do not fit, they simply derail the effort in what ever artistic statement he is going for. I can not sing either, not a note thus god made me a saxophone player and Oliver is a guitarist for a reason - he is excellent but vocally he is a sonic train wreck. This is the number one complaint of smooth jazz fans across the board. Lame vocals or as Clint Eastwood said in Dirty Harry, " A good man has got to know his limitations." The original smooth jazz format did not include vocals, this may be why.

The curious aspect of this release is that Tom Schuman and drummer/percussionist Bonny B who both work with Spyro Gyra make appearances. Other cameos include saxophonists Paul Taylor, Andrew Neu and Will Donato. Bassists Eddie Reddick, Donald Philips, KT Tyler and Billy Sherwood (from the legendary band Yes); and Moody Blues keyboardist Alan Hewitt. My first logical thought would be taking members of two legendary art rock bands from the seventies and to try and place them in the smooth jazz sub genre/radio format would be like having Al Pacino play Uncle Charlie on Two and a Half Men.

The tunes themselves cut no new ground and Oliver maintains a steady as she goes approach. A bad release? Not really...If you enjoy acoustic jazz then this release should fit right in your wheelhouse. If you are looking for contemporary jazz that sounds like something more that one long tune with 12 subdivisions then keep looking. Will the release do well? Count on it. Smooth jazz.com ( as of our last conversation ) rates releases based on number of spins not necessarily on listener request etc...i.e. you can spin a sonic flat line 500 times and make it chart and it still does not make it an artistic triumph.

The die hard smooth jazz fan should have no problems here. Those looking for something more contemporary that has a little meat on its bones should keep looking. This is simply Global Kiss played backwards.