Scott Allman quietly leaves the harmonic mine field of smooth jazz and firmly establishes himself as contemporary instrumental artist poised for greatness.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
I hate using the "S" word but I do so to make a point. Smooth jazz is not a genre of music, never has been. Smooth jazz is or to be accurate nothing more than a radio format that has chewed up and spit out some incredibly good talent that have somehow managed to slip into the jazz witness protection program. The problem with smooth jazz? The problems with a pretentious radio format having long outlived any reasonable form of relevance in contemporary music are two fold. The over use of programming and compression makes traditional smooth jazz sound as though it has been sanitized for your protection and lame neo-soul vocals whose only possible use could be that feeble attempt to strike cross over magic. With Next Stop Home, Scott Allman creates a contemporary instrumental joy ride of texture and harmonic colors that are a lyrical throwback to the day when contemporary instrumental was something far more evolved than pre-easy listening. The exponential growth of Scott Allman is staggering when compared to his last release Generations. Make no mistake, Generations is an incredibly solid release but Next Stop Home is simply Scott Allman raising his musical game to the next level.
What is a great record without a solid lineup of talent? Joining Scott we have some rock solid performances from Darren Rahn, Lin Rountree and a personal favorite in Phil Denny. There is consistency within Next Stop Home that borders on some of the more conceptualized work of a Ramsey Lewis or Bob James yet make no mistake, Scott Allman does a riff on no one. It is the individuality of the prolific talent that is Scott Allman where one can see the torch of contemporary instrumental piano being passed to the next generation with Scott Allman one of a very few artists with the mad skills to run the point.
Unlike some of Scott's contemporaries that walk the smoother side of the jazz street there is an effortless flow, an organic warmth of melody and smoldering groove that pushes the ordinary to the extraordinary. From the opening buoyant bounce of "Different Sun" to the lyrical sense of purpose behind "Road Trippin" the synergy created is natural, an ambient groove of new school contemporary music. The closer "Ten Mile Lake" is a gorgeous ballad, a tune of cinematic flair desperately seeking a fine feature film.
Scott Allman has found his home. Allman is an artist comfortable with who he is and where he is going, we simply reap the benefits of the gifts he chooses to share. Pretty sweet!
Tracks: Different Sun; Traveler; Road To Chongqing; Island Bound; Lane's Cove; Life Within; Road Trippin'; Gibraltar's Jewel; Departure Bay; Supersonic; Far Horizon; Ten Mile Lake.
Personnel: Scott Allman: Piano, Keyboards, Synth, Drum Programming; Darren Rahn: Sax, EWI; Gerey Johnson: Wah and Rhythm Guitar; John Kregor: Acoustic and Lead Guitar; Lamar Jones: Bass; Khari Parker: Drums; Frank Selman: Electric Guitar; Tarell Martin: Drums; Mel Brown: Bass; Lin Rountree: Trumpet; Phil Denny: Sax