One of the biggest complaints about contemporary jazz is that it's too commercially minded to be truly unique and creative. R&B guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. has figured out a way to combine the two in fresh ways which offer treats for the pop market as well as true jazz buffs. A River in the Desert has those easily accessible, Najee-esque cool funk grooves and vocals but also plenty of energetic creative electric and acoustic playing to show that Jackson understands the traditions his music is founded on. Even on more pedestrian fare like Boyz II Men's "End of the Road," he improvises nicely, but that's just an appetizer for the disc's real pleasures, two fiery all-acoustic blues jams with Stanley Clarke, Bobby Lyle and Ndugu Chancler. More would have been appreciated. Still, blend all the elements, artistic and chart conscious together, and Jackson gives the genre a perfect balancing act.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran