If there is one instrument that can clearly be identified with smooth jazz, it is the saxophone. The saxophone is so prevalent in this genre of smooth jazz/pop instrumental music that it is often difficult for new or unknown sax players to break away from the pack and get their music heard. Unless your last name is Sanborn, Koz, Elliott, or the one letter G man, you're fighting an uphill battle. So, the question is, what does a sax player do to get noticed in an already crowded field?
Step one: Get yourself out there and play with some well-known musicians. Andre Delano is R&B singer Maxwell's saxophone player. He is no stranger to smooth/contemporary jazz and R&B music having played with, among others, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Lorber, Chieli Minucci, Doc Powell, and Bobby Lyle.
Step two: Learn to multi-task. This debut CD reflects his proficiency with those genres, and his versatility as a musician, too. In addition to playing saxophones (soprano, alto, and tenor), he plays the Fender Rhodes, writes music, sings, and does the programming as well.
Step three: Get some really cool and talented musicians to play on your CD. Andre incorporates the talents of Kevin Toney, Jorge Evans (Brian Culbertson's guitar player), Al McKay (EW&F), Dwight Sills, Bruce Conte (TOP), and none other than Mr. Jeff Lorber himself on his debut solo release.
Step four: Provide your listener with a mix of several musical styles to showcase your talent.
Andre wrote or co-wrote all 11 tunes on this CD. It opens with the aptly titled “Funkborne,” complete with the party crowd noises in the opening seconds. “Why Not?” is an up-tempo tune with a catchy alto sax-driven melody. Andre sings on the title track “ Full Circle.” His vocals add a smooth R&B flavor to this tune, suitable for radio airplay on most urban contemporary for matt ed radio stations. “Footsteps” is reminiscent of a Walter Beasley song and style. “Night Riders” is the first single from this album. It appears twice, once in its original format and once again as a Jeff Lorber remix. This song has a pleasing smooth jazz alto sax hook with a strong bass and guitar presence. “Mystic Journey” is a Paul Taylor-ish, mid-tempo tune with a soft background vocal that accents the song without overpowering the sound of the soprano sax. “When Jadon Smiles” is a beautiful soprano ballad written for his son. Jadon even provides some vocals on that track.
I first heard this CD in the form of sound clips on the Internet. What I heard piqued my interest enough to want to hear the CD in its entirety. I'm glad I took the chance on Andre Delano's debut solo release.
- Mary Bentley