Brian Culbertson - Nice & Slow 


A large number of Smooth Jazz fans will be familiar with the keyboard-led sounds of Brian Culbertson’s music.

His music is maturing into a true fusion of jazz and soul styles.  His love of jazz came from his father, a high-school jazz band director and trumpeter.

Growing up, Culbertson also listened to '70s R&B/pop/funk bands like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tower of Power, and Earth, Wind & Fire.  He began his musical training at the age of eight with piano lessons, at nine he moved to drums, at ten he took up trombone, and at twelve he learned bass.

 If you’ve ever heard this phenomenon live, you’ll know how crazy the crowd goes when the trombone comes out – Heaven knows what we’d do if he played drums and bass during his act too.

 Nice and Slow is the sixth solo album and existing fans (like me with the other five CD’s sitting on my rack) will not be disappointed.  There is a very strong group of supporting musicians here and the compositions are extremely strong.  Unless you’re going to run out right now and buy it, here are my impressions…

Just Another Day is a lazy introduction to this CD.  The groove is mellow and the major talents of Jeff Lorber and vintage trumpeter Herb Alpert make this a classy rather than dynamic opener.

One of the reasons I love Culbertson’s music is the retro feel he introduces without it ever sounding clichéd.  Get It On is a 70’s title and this mid-tempo dancer is smile-inducing.  A real feelgood song.

Nice and Slow, the title track, shows some real soul class and the stylish vocals of Sheree and Trey Lorenz would make superb single material.  If anything catapults Brian into the limelight within the R&B world, this has to be it!

The saxophone of Dave Koz is featured on the dreamy I Could Get used to This.  An instrumental ballad of very high quality.  Lovely.

On Without Your Love, I was aware of Ricky Peterson on the Hammond B3 organ for the first time but reading the sleeve notes shows his major contribution on this disc.  The organ never gets in the way of that crystal-clear piano though and this track makes room for moody guitar licks and some gorgeous sax.

The album’s second vocal track Someone features Kenny Lattimore – right in the modern R&B groove – here that piano is really taking second place.

Prelude to Together Tonight/Together Tonight is my favourite piece on the album.  A late-night slow dance, wrapped in a whisper of strings with the most subtle accents on the bass, guitar and some tasty percussion from Lenny Castro.  I just put this on “repeat” and unwind.  Culbertson at his best.

The acoustic guitar which opens the strutting All About You is a surprise and the song grows on you.  You’ll hear Brian’s wife Michelle on backing vocals – the album is dedicated to her.  Lucky lady.

Which smooth jazz fan has not heard Kirk Whalum’s supreme tenor sax?  Enjoy it on I Wanna Know.  The intensity of the ballad builds during it’s almost 7-minute length.  Does it get much better than this?  Real drums make one of their rare appearances on this song and they sound fantastic.

The final track is a bonus mix of Someone.  The rhythm track is less busy than on the “standard” version and the vocal shines through.

There is no radical departure from previous albums – vocals are featured more strongly than before and the progression is a gradual one.  I never tire of Culbertson’s music – it’s like eating my favourite food.  Why is that?  It’s just GOOD.


Atlantic Records 83444 – Executive Producer Guy Eckstine