Keyboard player Bryant Thompson is located in the Atlanta area and has worked in several different areas of the music business. ‘Puzzle Pieces’, which is a commendable collection of predominately understated contemporary jazz, realizes a long held ambition to produce and release an album of his own music. Not only does it achieve this and then some but also provides an indicator of the depth of undiscovered talent that is out there and searching to be heard.
Thompson’s style is rooted in a fusion which sometimes appears at the contemporary end of the jazz spectrum and at others is positioned in a way that will satisfy the purists. At the smoother extremity of this musical rainbow is the delicious vibe of ‘Reflections Of Time’ which proves to be a mellow delight and although Thompson’s solo piano performance on ‘Love Notes’ is quite simply beauty personified, a change of gears moves him into the easy grooving ‘Shadowboxer’ for which Eric Essix on guitar is in excellent form.
‘Selah’ is flecked with subliminal vocals from G. Wright and enriched by the considerable contribution of Mike Burton on sax. It’s the sort of sultry song that epitomizes much of the collection while later, when Thompson eases up the tempo for ‘Japonica Avenue’, the result is something both jazzy and melodic. In similar vein is the closing track, ‘Perfect Timing’ that carries a big band swagger which Thompson underpins with a jazzy vibe and he uses another technically complex tune, ‘Free Your Mind’, to showcase the talents of bass-player Darrell Freeman.
Despite the feeling of the 5th Dimension that ‘Do You Know You’ undeniably has, the vocals of Pieces of A Dream regular Tracy Hamlin leaves this silky number sounding delightfully fresh and another track right up there with the album’s best is ‘Movado’. This brassy cut is in the best traditions of bands such as The Rippingtons and features cool muted trumpet from Joe Grandsen plus fine guitar from Joe Baraszu. However, that said, another Smooth Jazz Therapy favourite is ‘Stargazing’. Driven smoothly along by Ron James on alto sax; this melodic gem checks most every smooth jazz box imaginable.
‘Puzzle Pieces’ is available now from CD Baby and is worth checking out.