Smooth jazz has come in for a lot of pummeling over the last couple decades—often a drubbing was well deserved—but the mode is legitimate and harks back to the old West Coast Cool sound sieved through 1) New Age sentiments, 2) the far far edges of post-disco going back to more sedate nightclubs presently more sensual than carnal, and 3) the influence of cats like Grover Washington, Earl Klugh (who's still one of the best of the best in several sub-genres), Bob James, and myriad others who stapled intelligence and discretion to the underside of what was often dangerously close to Mantovani.
Jonathan Fritzén has quite a bit of Tom Grant, Dan Siegel, Bob James, and David Benoit to him, and the mixture is calmly potent. His last outing, Diamonds, landed him the #1 spot on both Billboard and Amazon.com. Especially as young as he is, that's pretty damned impressive. He also boasts a good backing band, frequently shifting guitarists in and out, as well as a number of sit-ins, including Boney James. In fact, the Sweet Spot cut singles out Paul Brown in one of the coolest John Tropea type recitals I've heard in a long long time.
Electric is probably my favorite track, a song with bounce and a very precisely tempo'ed lead/melody line breaking into splashy improv in the final segment, more than once reminiscent of Rob Mullins' best, spiced with a dash of Shakatak. Its follower, Nostalgia, is highly Romantic, airy, well engineered with a number of wise layering choices, everything decidedly to induce a pleasant upbeat melancholy in the listener, and I think the composition reveals Fritzén's true ace card: he knows how to develop a mood in the audience and then broaden it. No matter what the genre is, that's what any listener is looking for, and, in such things, Jonathan Fritzén knows what he's doing.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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