Wilton Felder

Let's Spend Some Time

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    5
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Wilton Felder, one of the founding members of the classic Jazz Crusaders, takes his first solo album on BCS (arguably a step down from the MCA days) for a romp through straightforward smooth jazz, verging even on adult contemporary. The pieces here are all penned by Felder and/or trumpeter George Shaw, and cover a decent range of styles available within the realm of smooth jazz. There are horn-filled bounces ("Smoke House"), nearly-too-sappy love ballads ("As Long as I'm with You"), and funky electro-jazz almost à la Urban Knights or a modern Herbie Hancock ("Ooh Whop, Doo Whop"). Where the album falls flat though isn't in its breadth, but in its execution and originality. One gets the feeling that he's heard this album before, or at least pieces of it. Felder certainly has a history to draw from, but these almost sound like reworkings of other artists. The playing and programming (it is rather synth-heavy) is entirely able, and the occasional solo is a bright spot in the album. Still, it just doesn't seem that the arrangements are really stretching anywhere. Smooth jazz isn't thought of as being a terribly adventurous genre, but the albums people remember still try and reach for something new. This one never quite gets anywhere.

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