Want a great Smooth Jazz CD that gets back to the basics? That's what Sweet Saxations is; a group of tight, catchy songs played with both skill and tangible emotion. It's not tricked-up, gimmicked-up or cluttered with trendy embellishments. This music has the substance and confidence that comes with knowing what you do well and doing exactly that.
Pamela Williams is not just an excellent sax player, she is one of the strongest songwriters in the genre. Plus, several of the songs are collaborations with Kim Waters and David Mann, two guys who know their way around an ear-grabbing hook. The balance between up-tempo jams, funky mid-tempo grooves and emotional ballads is perfect, and the sequencing makes this a rarity... a CD that sets an elegant mood without becoming overly lush or fading into the background.
A lot of these songs sound similar to Kim Waters' recent hits like "Waterfall" and "The Ride," but Williams doesn't sound like Waters, or anyone else. The clarity and preciseness of her tone is established on the opening tracks, "Emerald Eyes" and "Fly Away With Me." "Uptown," "Tequila Nights," and the title track are energized and bouncy. "Amber Skies," written for her newly adopted daughter, moves with a graceful sway. "Turn Up The Heat" has the urban groove, and the CD wraps up with two ballads, "A Kiss To Remember" and "The Seduction." All these songs have enough substance and nuance to keep them interesting through repeated listening. At another point in time a first-class musician recording a set of great songs might not have been something to celebrate because it happened more often, but now with the music industry reflecting and reacting to the pop culture obsession with every hot new thing the simplicity of a CD like this is both striking and refreshing.
- Shannon West