Jimmy Sommers

Sunset Collective

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Celebrating his tenth anniversary as an instrumental recording artist, the eclectic saxophonist took his innovative and groove intensive approach into a bright, funky, and trippy future. Because he came up at a time when smooth jazz was heading into urban territory, he was always easy to peg as a funky smooth guy -- but, as this progressive collective shows, he had something more on his mind than simply looking back at some success on The Wave-type stations. He didn't forget his roots completely, however; "Happy Hour" is an easy-grooving, midtempo retro-soul gem featuring the top producer in smooth jazz, guitarist Paul Brown. Likewise, the disco-fied thumper "Kickin' It" combines Sommers' cooler sensibilities with one of the genre's top melodic groovemasters, Brian Culbertson. Those are tasty, damn hip for smooth jazz in 2007, but Sommers was feeling more progressive on the ambient chill European club vibin' "Out of Nowhere," which is best described as liquid soul. It's curious that it took him over a minute and a half to actually touch the horn, but the track established the ambience he was after. Sommers happened to be neighbors with hot DJ/producer Paul Oakenfold, and the two combined forces for the vibrant and in-your-face, scratchy house jazz track "Vertical" and the hip-hop swinging "House Party." Elsewhere, Sommers' amped-up sax and tasty retro groove production was jazzed by R&B vocal greats Rahsaan Patterson and frequent Sommers collaborator Macy Gray. The disc was inspired by a vacation the saxman took to balmy Ibiza, where he saw some overwhelming sunsets; the tropical breeze, Spanish soul, and horn-drenched island club grooves were shining through on one of the best tracks, "The Islands." He was also in the mood for sensual Latin romance on a sweetly rendered, low-toned cover of "Besame Mucho." Anyone tired of the same old smooth jazz licks in 2007 was listening to this for fresh inspiration.

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