Sam Riney

At Last

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With this second album, the L.A.-based saxman found a voice that helped established him as an early mover and shaker in smooth jazz circles. This is a thoroughly enjoyable bunch of tunes -- smoothly produced, melodic -- and Riney has never been more dynamic or expressive, let alone passionate. He starts with "Fire," featuring some heavy rock & roll guitar licks by Mike Miller and energizing keywork by Emil Palame; keeps the candles lit for romance with his sweet, smooth alto on "Shape My Spirit"; and pours on the lush with "What Was I to You," which features a Spanish acoustic string solo by Grant Geissman. Riney aims for pop crossover success with the moody title cut (written by Kenny Loggins, David Foster, and Nathan East) and one of 1989's best vocal tracks, the sugar and spicy "Let It Ride" sung by Portia Griffin. Riney even delves into the spiritual and reflective on the graceful "Nuage." At Last's best melodies are saved for the textured synth seasonings of the standout cut, "Kabuki" (featuring synth by Don Grady of My Three Sons lore) and the leisurely drive down the "Pacific Coast Highway - 1 A.M." This last tune is make-out music at its steamiest and Riney's lilting sax is complemented wonderfully by Freddie Hubbard's sexy flugelhorn solo. Riney would never deliver on his early promise but his catalog is a must for all serious smooth jazz fans.

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