Keyboardist/trombonist Brian Culbertson picks up where he left off with his last album Bringing Back the Funk with his twelfth release titled appropriately enough XII. He offers his fans a little bit as well as a whole lot to like here. The funk is back as well as some soulful ballads that make him one of the most popular artists in smooth jazz today.
The opener really gets things going with the snappy “Feelin’ It”. Sinbad helps a little on guitar in the opening as a good bass line along with some added horns that serves as the platform for Brian’s keys. Add in some funky vocals and this one has a real party feel to it. “Another Love” opens with a chic like chords featuring Kenny Lattimore on vocals and Paul Jackson, Jr. on guitars. I like how this one moves, and with the strong bass line, would be a good one for the dance floor. The fun continues on “It’s Time” as Culbertson really takes control of the keys. It moves along at a lively beat which features both Jackson again along with Eric Marienthal on sax. I really like what Brian does here on keys and the whole song continues to build to a really nice ending. “Out On the Floor” features the vocals of Brian McKnight. This one moves along nicely, and McKnight’s vocals are a nice addition to another dance type song.
The heavily corded “Waiting For You” and “Forever” changes the pace really well. Brian shines here as he moves along the keys with ease. I really like what he does here, and I know a lot of his fans will as well. “Stay Wit It” picks up the pace again with a nice back beat that features Brian on keys through out. Randy Jacobs and Ray Parker Jr. add some good licks on guitar. “Skies Wide Open” is one of the ones you’ll be humming along for a while. Featuring the vocals of Avant, Culbertson teams up with Rex Rideout for one that you’ll be hearing quite a bit.
“That’s Life” is the one you’re hearing so much of on the radio these days. Featuring the guitar of Earl Klugh, as well as Parker and Marienthal again, this one moves along with an infectious beat that asks questions as well as answers them as well. I guess that’s a lot of the way life really is. The group really plays it off well. “I Wanna Love You” features Culbertson on a host of instruments along with Parker on guitar and vocals. It begins subtle enough but continues to grow with intensity and goes further and further along. It makes you wonder where the name came from, ha! “I Don’t Know” continues the mystic soundings as Brian’s keys play along with spoken word from Natalie Stewart. The sound here is darker than most of the other cuts here, but as always, he provides more than enough to keep it exciting.
I continue to play this release a lot and it has become another of my favorites. The funk songs play well with the slower ballads. Culbertson’s movement on the keys has always been something I’ve enjoyed and I believe you will too on this twelfth release.