One of the most talked about smooth jazz releases of 1995, saxophonist Dean James' debut Can We Talk launched Brajo Records and rode a solid airplay wave up the Gavin Report and Radio & Records charts, in addition to receiving praise from Jazziz magazine as a "strong, diverse, dynamic listening experience" featuring "steamy funk like you've never heard it." But dazzling debuts only open the doors; more often than not, it's the second album which determines the future course of the artist's career. James' powerful, passionate follow-up, Intimacy, is good news for both fans of Can We Talk as well as genre fans in the mood for a little steamy romance with their easy funk. Featuring a dynamic mix of cool R&B textures, exotic Latin/Brazilian leanings and lyrical ballads whose melodies grab the heartstrings and linger on, Intimacy strips down to the core of James' musical soul, which lies equally with alto and soprano. Working with various composer/arranger/producers, most notably Jeff Caruthers (notable for his work with sax star Boney James) and Jerry Peters (well known for his string arrangements for divas Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton), James ensures that the title of his album reflects its content wholeheartedly.Intimacy also features an amazing ensemble of some of L.A.'s top studio talent, a few of whom are also solo smooth jazz artists, who inspire James to push the limits of a great performance. These include Bobby Lyle, Rob Mullins, Paul Jackson, Jr., Paulinho Da Costa, and from Fourplay, Nathan East and Harvey Mason. There are a few clever twists in terms of the arrangements of some of the tracks on Intimacy, most notably James' trademark penchant for horn doubling and tripling to create an almost vocal harmony effect using the horn on tunes like the sultry opening track "Market Street," the dreamy swaying cover of Faith Evans' R&B smash "Soon As I Get Home," the soulful soprano based title cut and the lively, jazz-meets-hip hop jam "Nightcruise."
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran