In smooth jazz, there can be a major disparity between how artists sound in the studio and how they sound on-stage. Smooth jazz musicians who provide stiff, formulaic, unimaginative studio recordings for radio programmers often sound a lot more spontaneous and inspired when they're in a live setting; the improvisatory instincts that they go out of their way to repress in the studio are more likely to come out in front of a live audience. Brian Culbertson is a perfectly example. The keyboardist/trombonist has recorded more than his share of forgettable background music in the studio, but on-stage, Culbertson is a lot more loose and spontaneous. And his better instincts often prevail on Live from the Inside. This 2009 recording didn't actually take place in a nightclub or amphitheater, but rather, at Capitol Records' Studio A in Los Angeles. Culbertson favors a live-in-the-studio approach, and most of his performances have the sort of spontaneity he would bring to a club or amphitheater gig. Instead of burying his chops under layers and layers of needless production, he frequently lets them flow and allows his edgier side to come out. That said, no one will mistake Live from the Inside for hard bop; R&B and pop considerations are a big part of the equation on "Always Remember," "So Good," and other groove-oriented tunes. This is commercial music, without a doubt. But it's commercial music that, for the most part, has some guts. A few of the lighter tracks are a little too syrupy for their own good. But all things considered, Live from the Inside is one of the more substantial releases in Culbertson's catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Full Interviews with: Brian Culbertson; Dave Koz; Ray Parker Jr.; Eric Darius; Michael Lington; Eric Marienthal; Jim Cul
Track Listing - Disc 2