What gives this a slight edge over much of what passes for smooth jazz is the consummate musicianship. This is a mixed bag, with some of the melodies rising above the fray. Roberto Ottaviano is the sole horn and his work on soprano sax rivals the best, although here he is restrained. Sweet and cool, Ottaviano plays it nice and easy, but for many his deft modesty will likely hit the mark. Even with relatively banal material he shows a graceful elegance. The accompanying three person rhythm section, including leader Balducci on bass, Lutte Berg on guitars, and Ninad Masssimo Carrano on percussion, adds a touching flair, with a heavy emphasis on rhythm. Some of the pieces have a slightly dated feel, a throwback to the 1970s. Often there is a certain static element, but at times catchy or winding melodies and rhythms rise above it all. In the end, though, one might wonder if this could have been more, as the improvisers -- particularly the saxophonist -- are capable of more significant work.