Don Diego

This Must Be Heaven

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Don Diego's assertion on his multi-faceted new album that This Must Be Heaven is obviously divinely focused, but it could just as easily reflect the feelings of a listener seeking a bit of adventure in their smooth jazz. The saxman's horns are like swirling butterflies, genre hopping and jumping through different rhythmic hoops while never staying in one place too long. Doubling his alto for extra texture on an irrepressible hook, he carries the melody of the wah-wah punched title track over soaring synth strings and even a synth vibe solo. When he's not doubling himself, he's getting into push me-pull you oneupsmanship with no less than Gerald Albright (honking and swirling his soprano around Albright's alto on "Round 12 AM") and Kirk Whalum, whose tenor dances with Diego's soprano over chunky bass grooves. When he's not playing with his main inspirations, Diego is paying homage; "Mr. Magic...A Tribute" finds him approximating the gently bubbling tenor effect of Grover Washington, Jr. as party voices egg him on. He balances all the energetic fun with a few deeper thoughts as well. "Savannah" is a moody vocal featuring Wynton Marsalis, and more impressive, "Shanna" (dedicated to Diego's wife) is a nearly eight-minute musical love poem which finds the saxman finding darkly melancholic tenor edges over the subtle Hammond Organ fire of Tom Grose and a shuffling trio beat.

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