born jazz guitarist Nils has found the way to the hearts of the
smooth jazz audience with albums
Coast Highway (2005), Ready To Play (2007), Up Close
And Personal (2009), What The Funk (2010), City Groove (2012),
and Alley Cat (2015).
His new album Play (2018) is the next
stunning bringer of groove.
Besides his longtime core band of Clydene Jackson (keyboards, vocals),
percussionist Oliver C. Brown and bassist Darryl Williams are joining
this project drummers Gorden Campbell, Tony Moore and Eric Valentine,
pianists Gail Jhonson and Mitchel Forman, bassist Roberto Vally,
keyboardists Philippe Saisse and Nate Harasim and saxophonists Steve
Cole (solo), Brandon Willis (solo), Charley Langer (horn section) and
Mike Parlett (horn section). Finally Johnny Britt adds vocals, keys,
Rhodes, trumpet and horns to selected tracks.
The starting Coast To Coast conjures up
the fantastic mood of a ride along the coast with its multitude of
vivid impressions reflected in Nile's guitar riffs. The song We
Got Love was released in 2015 by Babyface as part of his album
Return of the Tender Lover titled in reference to his second
solo album Tender Lover. Nils
perfectly captures in his rendition the
rollicking vibes of the original.
Straight Down the Line is certainly an
energetic guitar tune, but Johnny Britt delivers the pepper in the
soup with his powerful horn textures. The title Sway
appropriately describes the groovy, wavering and shuffle-like style of
this piece. Here, too, Johnny Britt gets right to the heart with his
muted trumpet and the vocal exclamation point.
Keyboardist Nate Harasim is one of the rising
producer stars in the smooth jazz genre. His collaboration with Nils
Play It shows that little something magical extra that grows
beyond the average production. Goldfinger should not be
confused with the theme for the well-known James Bond movie. Rather,
it is a prime example of the wealth of variants which Nils has to
offer on his various guitars entangled in wonderful harmonies.
California features sax player Steve
Cole in a well arranged horn focused tune. So Get On Up steps
in another groove of unadulterated R&B and funk in Motown tradition.
Careless Whisper, a song by George Michael released in 1984,
is one of the most covered hits. Nils glows with the warmth and
keenness of the original in harmonically sounding guitar music.
Off To The Races has a special Nile
Rodgers flow growing with a funky attitude. Voices in the Dark
has a unique feature in the context of this album, because it falls
in the field of esoteric New Age with its soulful tone
sequence. The final Fire of My Heart evolves from an ambient
guitar piece to a touching vocal ballad with high addictive value.
Let's not fool ourselves. If we listen to a new
album, we want to hear music that takes us into realms that inflame
our acoustic senses. With his album Play, Nils has exactly
set those impulses that make it a lasting memory.