Although released late in 2010 the current CD from saxophonist Dee Lucas is certainly worthy of comment. Titled ‘Standing Room Only’ it follows on from his 2007 project ‘Something To Ride 2’ which at the time I described as being a superb example of cutting edge urban jazz and entirely in keeping with the smoky direction in which the genre is currently moving. Here, with production input from Phil Davis and Lee Hurst, he picks up right where ‘Something To Ride 2’ left off and in the process delivers a body of work as fresh as anything I have heard this year.
Atlanta born and based Lucas first came to prominence in 2004 with his debut offering ‘Remembrance’. His homage to the great George Howard, it was greeted with stunning reviews, garnered extensive airplay and paved the way for prominent engagements to open for artists such as Roy Ayers, Hugh Masakela, The Gap Band and Lalah Hathaway. His success was all the more remarkable for the fact that as a self taught musician he did not pick up the sax until the age of 28 but now, three albums in, he continues to go from strength to strength. In fact those discovering the music of Dee Lucas for the first time need look no further than the opening track of the new release, the easy grooving ‘Keep Knockin’. Not only is it delightful on the ear but also very much in keeping with what his playing is all about and much the same can be said of the mid tempo ‘Scorpio’ where fine flute from Nakayo and the zesty brass of Nelson Render really make a difference.
Dee slips into reflective mood for the tender ‘Tiffany’s World’ and although a shuffling jazzy intro heralds in the lively title cut, the languidly hypnotic ‘The Friday After’ quickly returns Lucas to a more tranquil groove. Composed by Phil Davies the tune also benefits from the cool trumpet of Cedric Young while elsewhere ‘Shadow In The Dark’ serves as a classic example of ‘in the pocket’ contemporary jazz. Clearly up there with the collection’s best it is in the good company of both the heavily urban ‘Stressing’ and the massively seductive ‘Don’t Go’. Already a firm Smooth Jazz Therapy favourite, this latter number proves to be the perfect vehicle for Dee’s mellow playing and is added to by sexy vocals from Tamar Lucas.