Adding another dimension to his already strong presence in the smooth jazz genre, Steve Oliver released his aptly titled third CD, 3D. Recorded on the Koch Record label, Steve delivers another stunning performance of his trademark vocals and outstanding guitar work. Combine that West Coast flavor of his with the sounds of Tom Shuman, Eric Marienthal, and Harvey Mason, and you have an amazing listening experience.
The opening track, “Magic World” is a percussion-driven number, which sets the tone for this whole transformation into another dimension. The acoustic guitar stylings are enhanced by those great rhythms, provided by Roger Friend. This feeling is carried through to other intriguing tracks, such as the title track "3-D." With Harvey Mason contributing the drum beat, Tom Shuman adding the piano, Steve Oliver is able to give you some beautiful guitar work.
"Wings of Spring" is a very up-tempo number. This is the kind of song that will make you get up and dance while feeling the energy through the vocals of Steve Oliver. The percussion builds and the piano provides the melody. "Chips & Salsa," the Latin-flavored, first single off the disc, jumps at you with bold guitar licks and percussion, and the understated piano. This is one track you never want to end! "Oh Yeah," "She’s Got the Way-O" and "Funhouse," featuring Eric Marienthal on a boomin’ sax, continue the groove and keep the party going!
While most instrumental artists in smooth jazz tend to keep the vocals to a minimum, Steve Oliver hits big with three of the best vocals heard in a long time. Steve’s voice, while usually only heard in combination with his guitar, lets loose on "You Rescued Me," "Let It Go," and "See You Soon." Each of these tunes add an R&B texture that fits in well with the rest of the disc. The only cover, John Lennon’s "Imagine," is done with such finesse that it is almost tearful.
With exciting rhythms, amazing vocals and impeccable guitar work, Steve Oliver has now shown us a new, deeper dimension of what he is capable of. This CD, 3D, is certain to be the benchmark for others to be measured against.
- Bonnie Schendell