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Release Date:
October 27, 2009

Reviewed by:
Harvey Cline

It has been a while since this popular sax artist’s last release of My Inspiration (2008), so this one comes to us with full anticipation. It is a little bit different than more of his contemporary releases over the years. The biggest change is the move towards mainstream jazz on this Shanachie release.

The first cut, for example, called “The Council of Nicea,” is a great opener with a good steady beat and definite break in the instrumentation. Everette opens but later gives way to some of his band members. These solos seem to stand on their own, as if playing live. He joins them in the end for a rousing finish. “Before You Leave” and “Blossom” are definitely straight ahead. Sounds from an old jazz club follow these with the broken sax riffs, keyboard solos and stand up bass. “Soul Fries” comes back towards the middle ground again with a more melodic offering and funky beat.

I enjoyed the title track here as Everette is all over the place on his soprano that shows off his skills as a talented sax artist. George Duke adds to the mix with some wonderful piano. The melody is one you’ll want to take with you. Duke leads off “Texas Groove” with some tight keys followed by more of Everette’s inspiring sax. His sound here is more like what we have heard on his earlier works over the years. Must be fun for this native Texan on this cut. The next two songs are much slower in their delivery, along with the final one called “Our Love is Here To Stay.”  They really slow the album down overall. The exception is the fusion inspired “Departure.” It is heavy with keys, and a less melodic sax from Harp. Having heard this one on its own, you never would have thought it was him. His soprano plays well with the rest of the band throughout.

All in all this is a different direction for Everette. He continues to shine, and I think there’s a bit here for all of his fans, as well as new followers. Straight ahead, fusion as well as contemporary fans have a little bit to check out on First Love.