Release Date:
September 1, 2007

Reviewed by:
Mary Bentley

While the saxophone has long been a staple in smooth jazz, the flute is making a name for itself as well.  There are several players out there making good music with the flute being the upfront instrument of choice.  Dwayne Kerr is one of the up and comers.  Higher Calling is his second solo CD release.  Kerr’s music cannot strictly be classified as one genre or another; it’s a mixture of smooth jazz, neo-soul, and R&B.  (He calls it soul jazz.)  But, whatever genre he’s playing, it just works. 

Kerr has been a long time member of neo-soul artist Erykah Badu’s band, and he enlists her vocal talents on his opening cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine.”  She supplements his playing with an easy background vocalese.  One of the more interesting tunes on this CD is “The H Factor.”  This is pure danceable R&B.

Kerr easily demonstrates how the flute can be smooth and fluid, like in his cover of the John Mayer tune, “Daughters,” or, how it can be raw and edgy, the way he plays it on “Chameleon (Beat box) Style,” his take on the Herbie Hancock classic.  (He gives us two versions of “Daughters”; one plugged, and one that is unplugged acoustic.  The flute translates well on both.)  Guest musician Kirk Whalum joins Kerr on “Being with You.”  On this track, you can hear how effortlessly the flute and the saxophone sounds work together.  “Yeah” is a mid tempo smooth jazz ballad which will appeal to smooth jazz fans.  It’s melody driven, and Kerr’s flute brings it out effortlessly.  (In my opinion, this would have been a better choice for the first single.)  Guitarist Matt Marshak joins Kerr on “Chillin’.”  

If you’re a fan of the flute, you’re going to love this CD.  With each song, Dwayne Kerr delivers.  He showcases his talent and his instrument to peak performance.  Even if you haven’t quite found your way to the nuances of the flute as the feature instrument, you’re bound to like this CD anyway. Plan and simple, it’s just good music.