Rob White

Let It Ride

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It's been nearly two decades since the production team at Orpheus Records -- including label president Beau Huggins and producer Yasha -- helped create the funky sounds that launched now-veterans Najee and Alex Bugnon to early smooth jazz stardom. Now, the label is hoping that lightning strikes again with the discovery of Rob White, a solid R&B, gospel, and funk-influenced saxman who delivers the silky, seductive goods on his label debut. The sax landscape is a bit more crowded these days, but White should have no trouble breaking through with appealing, slickly produced, and powerfully played tracks like the Latin-influenced "Fin de Semana (Weekend)" (featuring wordless backing vocals that just beg the listener to sing along), "High Brow," and the classic, tender Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis-penned ballad "I Wish I Wasn't." White is a nimble, versatile player and proves adaptable to all the tempos Yasha provides for him as a producer and composer -- from the dreamy title track to the joyfully uptempo "Summer Groovin'." Most covers these days are generally done by rote, but White is at his most expressive paying homage to Luther Vandross on a heartfelt rendition of "A House Is Not a Home." Let It Ride plays like the beginning of a great new journey in smooth jazz, but it would be nice as his career develops if White could bring more of his own material and production vibe to the table.

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