Bobby "BW" Wells


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Bayside Review

by Jonathan Widran

While he's not quite as slick and richly produced as top smooth jazz keyboardist Brian Culbertson, this Denver and funk-based keyboardist mines similarly accessible territory on his fourth release, with immediately likeable results. Between frequent returns to the catchy hook of the title track with acoustic guitarist Michael O'Neill are lovely acoustic piano runs that show a deeper jazz sensibility than most genre hits have. Wells and O'Neill (on a restrained electric) go a bit more retro soulful on the moody "My Heart to Yours." While always bubbling under the surface of the genre elite, Wells is well connected enough to have had Kirk Whalum on his previous release It's About Time, and Eric Marienthal's rich tenor on two key tracks here -- the dreamy romance "I Barely Know You" and the light funk gem "Loosen Up." Wells goes gently exotic on "Rio Good" with the help of well-known flutist Bryan Savage and lets Mel Brown's cool, thumping bass share the glory on "My All in All." Left to his own devices, Wells does just fine, brightening up the easy grooves of "Traffic Jam" with an energetic keyboard melody. His only serious misstep is in assuming he should do his own vocals on "I'm That Kind of Guy." The tune has a great, Rhodes-flavored vibe but the overall result is bland. As a singer, Wells has a limited future, but as a smooth jazz keyboardist, he's worthy of much more attention.

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