Rocky Gordon: Alone In The Crowd (2007)
It is difficult to compare this album to any other available today, and that is a good thing because it's uncertain whether or not smooth jazz stations will embrace something so unique as saxophonist Rocky Gordon's Alone In the Crowd. The compositions definitely break stride from format. But rest assured there is an audience for this music.
On first listen it would seem that "The Great Escape, "To Yourself Be True and "The Dream Messenger" best represent the direction of the CD. However, there are other selections that may arouse the listener. Gordon delivers a strong performance on the relaxed shuffle and melodic hook of "Comfort Zone. The Brazilian- influenced "Nuovo Strada Di Spero, with its samba-like groove and Sergio Mendes-style melody, matches synthesizer and real voices backing the theme.
But "The Great Escape" is an approach not often heard in today's smooth or contemporary jazz. It features a dance groove, a memorable melody and fine production by Spyro Gyra keyboardist Tom Schuman, who also plays on two other selections: "To Yourself Be True, and the title cut, where he's strongly featured.
"The Dream Messenger, with its haunting bass line and driving dance groove, establishes a new level of writing for contemporary jazz. So, too, does "To Yourself Be True, the only cut on the CD where the artist plays alto and you truly find yourself immersed in the theme of the song with all its surrounding colors, featuring great guitar work by Von Schuman.
Alone In the Crowd weaves a tapestry of modern Latin, funk, hip hop, and dance grooves. And yet it may not fall into the genre of smooth jazz. Gordon definitely embellishes all the compositions with mature improvisation and an appealing sound from his soprano-like saxello, proving that in order to be modern you don't have to sell out your integrity as a jazz musician to pop instrumental music.
Track Listing: The Great Escape; Comfort Zone; The Dream Messenger; Alone In The Crowd; Beachfront Dreams; To Yourself Be True; We'll Always Be Young; Nuovo Strada Di Spero; Song for Solititude; A Fresh Start; Angel.
Personnel: Rocky Gordon: saxello, alto saxophone; Tom Schuman: keys (1, 4, 6) ; Joe Daniels: keys (2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10); Sherry Roussin Gordon: keys (10); Carlos Schuman: guitar (4); Von Schuman: guitar (6); Donny Kellman: guitar (3,5, 7, 9, 10, 11); Kelly Dorn: guitar (2); Michael Anthony Henegan: guitar (8); Schu Thompson: bass (1, 4, 6); Lenny Ross: bass (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10); Sticks Bridges: drums (1, 4, 6); Chic Cando: drums (2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10).