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.