Steve Veale

Urban Oasis

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Smooth jazz needs more artists like this Orlando, FA-based guitarist, who knows his way around a breezy pop instrumental hook but challenges himself to push the envelope into the territories of retro-soul, edgy blues, and -- for a few moments anyway -- a little festive samba. So while "The Girl Next Door" offers a pretty straightforward, snappy melody over a midtempo shuffle groove (read: radio-ready gem), "Drive Time" delves deeply into harder funk territory with Dave Lowrey's chunky electric basslines popping behind a percussive electric guitar melody (reminiscent of some of Joyce Cooling's best work) and a swirl of wah-wah guitar clicks, synth-generated Fender Rhodes melody, and bubbly percussion effects. "Marlon's Island" presents itself as a middle-of-the-road, easygoing, gentle groover before breaking briefly into a frenetic joyride in samba territory with a punchy duet between guitar and Robert Wawoe's scat vocals. The tune jumps back and forth, then breaks for Mike Avila's sparkling piano solo. Another standout is "D.C. Trip," which features a peppy acoustic guitar and sax dual-melody line (Elliot Dyson on alto) over a simmering, rising organ harmony. Veale also shows good business (marketing to radio) sense by including a playful version of the Little River Band evergreen "Reminiscing." One of the best smooth jazz releases of 2000 thus far.

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