Bob Kaufman

Sunday Drive

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Smooth jazz has finally been blessed with a few trumpet players (Rick Braun and Chris Botti) to balance out the bevy of saxmen, but till now, trombone has been used only in horn sections. Kaufman's funky, seductive style and high gusts of energy -- the disc offers an attractive balance and lots of ensemble energy -- could instigate a new horn trend. Hard to say if the format will take the risk on the little-heard 'bone, but there's no denying the seductive and breezy funk of "Sunday Drive" is in the pocket. Kaufman also has a great time duetting with the counterpoint harmonies of several outside horn players, including Eric Marienthal (alto), Bill Liston (tenor), and Bobby Rodriguez (trumpet). The best of these is "The up and Up," the bright, thick, grooving duet with Marienthal which also features a lush, tropically tinged acoustic guitar solo by Grant Geissman. Stylistically, he ranges from funk and semi-traditional jazz to a balmy, Caribbean-flavored gem called "Tropicool." Kaufman is on an indie label, and these often have a hard time securing airplay among the bigger artists. Yet there's no doubt if these tunes are heard, smooth jazz may never be the same.

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