The jazz world keeps so busy talking about the young lions on the straight-ahead side, it's easy to overlook the enormous potential of contemporary wunderkinds like keyboard whiz Brian Culbertson. The Chicago native's Long Night Out was one of last year's radio smashes, but he reaches even deeper into his vast melodic artistry for a unique perspective on Modern Life. While his success hinges on a sprightly solo synth touch and remarkably spry compositions, Culbertson's true evolution this time is in the area of subtle production textures and breeding with ace ensemble players like saxmen Mark Colby and Gerald Albright, trumpeter Jim Culbertson, bassist Steve Rodby, and the nylon graces of Fareed Haque. He perfectly balances energetic R&B tempos with a rich sense of atmospheric moods, pausing his sense of invention only briefly for a fairly by-the-book (though still beautiful) reading of "Save the Best for Last." Establishing himself as somewhat of a lighthearted visionary in addition to his skills as purveyor of the radio gem, Culbertson makes an art form out of merging fun fluff with vibrant swings which almost defy commercial expectations.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran