Soul Sessions presents Jeff Golub's attempt to recreate the '60s and '70s recording sessions where musicians played live together in the studio rather than the modern way of recording each separately. It makes for a more lively Golub album than usual and does overcome the overly slick and lifeless production that so many smooth jazz albums suffer from. But it's getting harder and harder to lump Golub with other smooth jazz artists as his albums become funkier and more soulful affairs than the competition offers. It's difficult not to think of late-period Wes Montgomery while listening to the opening "Boom Boom," and when Ricky Peterson's Hammond B-3 shows up here and there it pushes the album into the soul-jazz category. Soul Sessions mixes in some satisfying pop with a sunny cover of No Doubt's "Underneath It All," and the Golub original "Can't Let You Go," with Mindi Abair and Journey's Steve Perry guesting on vocals respectively. Marc Cohn's vocalizing on Jesse Winchester's "Isn't That So," and Luis Conte's focused percussion are also highlights. The album falls prey to smooth jazz's clichés only when saxophonist Richard Elliot sleepwalks through "Playin' It Cool," and Abair and Perry are given nothing more than their respective songs' titles as lyrics. Otherwise, the musicians' interaction is satisfying, but Golub's discography now just cries out for a live album.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Mindi Abair
feat: Marc Cohn
feat: Sue Ann Carwell