Steve Cole's talent and artistic roots come full circle with his finest release to date, Pulse.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
A lot of critics are referring to Pulse as a back to basics approach for one of the most consistent talents in contemporary jazz, Steve Cole. This roots oriented spin is slightly misleading as Cole is not going back to basics but instead allowing a myriad of influences to come full circle in a dynamic package that keeps Steve Cole at the very top of the food chain when it comes to contemporary instrumental music.
Jazz, soul, gospel and rhythm & blues are all here and are firing on all cylinders. Several key points to the success of Pulse include not having the same predictable cast of session players that seem to rotate through releases faster than one goes through shoes and the absence of what could be considered as overtly commercial attempts at trying to strike cross over gold with second rate vocals from third rate singers. Steve Cole embodies everything that is good and true when it comes to contemporary instrumental jazz, I avoid using the archaic label of smooth jazz as it simply does not fit here.
Steve Cole has a nice fat sound, if Stan Getz were playing this style of improvisational music then this may be close to where his sound would be. There are tenor players with twice the experience that have worked an entire career and can not match Cole's signature sound. It is this very identifiable sound that sets him head and shoulders above a tightly clustered pack of carbon copies dotting the smooth jazz landscape today. From the jazz nasty "Slinky" which is pure flash fried funk to the hip-hop rhythmic pop of "Maximum Cool" there is a diversity of sound but a remarkable consistency within the lyrical sense of urgency that emanates from Cole's horn. Having referred to Steve as a throw back player on more than one occasion, "Believe" is that retro old school becoming new cool sound that is the perfect marriage of gospel, soul and improvisational magic that is nothing but flavor.
Steve Cole doesn't attempt to reinvent the musical wheel with Pulse but instead he just wants to share a little of himself through his music. It doesn't get much better than this.
Tracks: Pulse; Do Your Thing; With You All The Way; Slinky; Going In Circles; Looking Up; Maximum Cool; Minty Fresh; Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City; Believe.
Personnel: Steve Cole: Tenor Saxophone; Trevor Neumann: Trumpet; Dan Levine: Trombone; David Mann: Alto & Tenor Saxophone, Keyboards, Programming, Flute, Synth Bass; Nicholas Cole: Keyboards & Synth Bass, Programming; Ricky Peterson: Hammon B3; Bernd Schoenhart: Guitar; Khari Parker: Drums; Paul Peterson: Electric Bass; Nicki Richards: Background Vocals; Rico McFarland: Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals