There are two things you can count on from Steve Cole: fresh and evolving music, and inspired sax playing. True, the fifth solo album from the Chicago saxman doesn’t disappoint. It’s nine tracks of original material written or co-written by Cole – not a single cover anywhere. There is nothing cookie-cutter about this one. Nothing insults the intelligence of the listener. And we have real musicians interacting with each other on every track.
True opens with “Bounce,” a lively and engaging tune that audiences got to hear this past summer in Steve’s live shows. They loved it. What’s not to love here? Jazz meets Chill in “Côté Seine,” an enticing track complete with smoky tenor sax and acoustic guitar and bass.
Smooth jazz rocker, Jeff Golub, joins Cole on the next two tracks. Definitely one of my favorites, “Curtis” is a bluesy, soulful tribute to fellow Chicago native, Curtis Mayfield. The only thing wrong with this one is that it’s too short! “Just A Natural Thang” pays homage to another Chicagoan, Quincy Jones. And while keeping in that spirit, Cole touches it with one of the things he does best – a truly great hook. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
“Take Me” continues in the singer-songwriter spirit of Spin with Steve not only working the tenor sax, but also laying down a very deep, rich acoustic rhythm guitar. The sound quality on this track is incredible – as is the song itself. “Something About You” harkens back to the days when Cole collaborated with Brian Culbertson – trombone and all.
Next up is the first radio single from True, “Metro,” which is a huge nod to the Chicago music scene – past and present. Chicago house music. It has the groove; it has the beat…get ready to dance.
Jeff Golub joins Cole again on “Closer,” a gentle, melodic, soulful ballad with a nice blend of acoustic and electric guitars behind Cole’s tenor sax. And closing things out is “Come With Me” where Steve treats us to some soprano sax. Not many people should be allowed to play the soprano sax, and way too many people do. Steve Cole is one of the few that really knows how to make that instrument float and take you on some sweet musical journeys. “Come With Me” is one of those. Nice ending to an incredible CD…
I’m already looking forward to the next Steve Cole album.
- Elizabeth Ware