When guitarist Ken Navarro launched Positive Music in the early '90s, he released many solid recordings from gifted artists in addition to himself. Over the years, the release schedule has been cut back (aside from his own projects), but every so often a very likeable middle-of-the-road smooth jazz gem will emerge. This year, it's this enjoyable disc by a sax player who doesn't sound that much different from the much more popular Dave Koz or Warren Hill (who also bear a tremendous David Sanborn influence), but who is still worthy of genre airplay attention. The first three tracks, "Dream Street," "Open Road," and especially the bluesy "Rendezvous," have the kinds of mid-tempo funk grooves fans of the genre can't get enough of; it's fun to hear Villars grow more energetic as the tunes progress. On "Every Moment," he makes more of an emotional statement. Villars, however, doesn't start making any true unique statement until the jazzier, more swinging "Jarreau," which captures the playful spunk of the singer the tune is named for. Villars mostly leaves the composing to others, but "Meant to Be" is a decent enough ballad tucked in at track nine. He saves the best for last, however, with a cool, slow building, and ultimately powerful seven-minute cover of "The World Is a Ghetto"; the unique arrangement could almost be called Brazilian blues. Villars won't make you forget his much more well-known peers, but has enough to offer to find a place among the veterans.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran