Gospel Jazz...Approach with caution.
Sad but that is in fact the attitude even the most enlightened followers of the radio format commonly known as smooth jazz hold when a formidable talent such as Tony Craddock Jr. shares a little bit of himself with the world. Meanwhile those keeping this segment of the contemporary jazz tree growing are writing and posting on social media their beliefs, ideals and moral convictions while the artist that chooses to pursue a more unified and inclusive secular approach are left holding the bag and forced to work twice as hard for the recognition they so rightfully deserve. Tony Craddock Jr. is no exception. Religion is not necessarily the primary focus here but an over all spiritual vibe is unmistakable.
Contributing music to the Weather Channel is certainly nothing for the jazz purists to look down their nose on as smooth jazz was essentially born on this channel with groups such as Spyro Gyra and the early days of the Jeff Lorber Fusion. With Convection Tony Craddock Jr. does his own riff on what has fascinated man the most since the dawn of time, specifically the weather and the search for true spiritual enlightenment. Special guest and guitarist extraordinaire Ken Navvaro makes a welcome cameo appearance with the end result a more open ended sound far removed from some of the artists whose releases sound as though they have been sanitized for your protection. Tony Craddock Jr. is a technician with a whole lot of soul and thus elevates a stagnate format back to an engaging experience for all jazz aficionados.
There is a solid ebb and flow that runs through Convection, something sadly missing in most attempts coming out of the smooth jazz camp. "You Brought The Sunshine" is a vibrant gospel tinged composition that is well developed and allows for Tony Craddock to shine as an instrumentalist that is far from a one trick pony as one could get. The previously mentioned Ken Navarro brings his acoustic guitar for a textured finish on "1102 Bradford Hall" while the lone vocal track is simply crushed by Ashli Rice. Convection breaks the mold of the run of the mill smooth jazz experience but never goes to the self righteous extreme of what some may consider the more hard core gospel jazz. This particular release offers something for everyone while alienating no one and this is why the release is so deserving of a serious look by sites such as www.smoothjazz.com.
Tony Craddock Jr. is just one of many Independent artists that have reached out to me in order to have someone give their work a fair shake and hopefully a platform from which to build more interest. A good critic has to have a little publicist lurking just below the surface. Convection has a warm accessible sound with incredibly depth and should peak the interests of not only the gospel jazz fan but those that enjoy taking a walk on the smoother side of jazz.
4 Stars and a name to remember!
Tracks: Convection (Acts 2:2); Retrograde Motion (Matthew 2:12); You Brought The Sunshine (John 8:12); 1102 Bradfield Hall (Job 37); Wind At My Back (Psalm 23); Moving Forward (Interlude) (Philippians 3:14); Let It Rise (Revelations 15:8); Second Glance (Proverbs 18:15); Tropical (Ezekiel 27:15); Virga (Philippians 4:6).
Personnel: Tony Craddock Jr.: soprano and alto saxophone; Ricchye Ric: keyboards, programming; Dee Dee Ball: bass guitar (1,2,3,4,8,10); Arturo Bermudez Ayala: bass guitar (9); Corey "Modrums" Wilson: drums (1,2,3,4,8); Eric Perez: percussion (9); Matthew Wiezien & Joshua Holmes: trumpet (2,3,8,10); Patrick Gillespie: trombone (2,3,8,10); Mark Campayno: lead & wah wah guitar (1,2,3,8); Ted Agnew: rhythm guitar (2,8); Kevin Williams: rhythm guitar (3).