Guitarist J. Thompson describes the music on his second CD as “new, old music.” I kind of know what he means when he says that, and you will too once you listen to the music on Inside World. J. comes from a background rich in rock, jazz, and R&B music which is reflected throughout this CD. He takes all of this and blends it into a CD of mostly smooth jazz songs, with some other elements added as well. You can hear a little blues, and you can hear a little rock permeating throughout this CD. These are all original tunes, either written or co written by J. Thompson. J .has top notch musicians on this CD; Peter Horvath on keys, Oscar Seaton and David Getz on drums, Luis Conte on percussion, and Norton Buffalo on harmonica.
The first two songs, “Marche, Marche” and “Tale of Tiernan” are guitar led songs with catchy melodies that would play nicely on a good smooth jazz radio station. In fact, “Tale of Tiernan” is the radio single from this CD. “Smile for Me” is easy going and laid back, as is “Dreamer.” On these songs, J.’s guitar is accented by Peter Horvath on keys. This song is reminiscent of sitting out on the back porch on a warm summer day. “Cincy in the City” is an interesting tune. On first listen it’s a bit quirky, (you hear someone walk out of a room and slam a door while the song fades out in the end) but, when you play it some more and you dig deeper into this song, you realize that it’s a showpiece for Norton Buffalo’s harmonica. The harmonica is not usually associated with this genre of music, so to include it in a smooth jazz CD was an interesting choice, but one that works. The title track, “Inside World” is J. on guitars, bass, and vocals. J. appears to be drawing from his rock background on this one. “Gimme Sum” turns it up with a bit of guitar funk against a groove laid down by Seaton and Conte. “The Shake” is another standout tune, again, bringing back Peter Horvath, but this time on the chromatic harp. “One Day” closes out this CD with J. playing electric guitar, bass, and keyboards. Although he plays these three instruments, the guitar is really where he stretches out and shines. His notes are supplemented by John Blakely on mandolin and acoustic guitar. Again, J. is not afraid to take unconventional instruments and use them in a smooth jazz context. It gives the music a bit more character.
J. is not only a talented multi-instrumentalist, but a skilled songwriter as well. This is an interesting CD, and I’ve found that the music grows on me with each additional listen. Fans of smooth jazz should seek out this CD. Once they hear it, they will definitely enjoy it.
- Mary Bentley