‘Summer Rain’ by sax-tress Jeanette Harris is her fourth recording and follows the 2010 CD ‘Saxified’ that in 2012 enjoyed something of a revival with the radio single ‘All I Do’. This silky cover of the Stevie Wonder composition (that back in 1966 helped make Tammi Terrell a star) considerably enhanced the reputation of Harris as a player to be taken seriously and, if that wasn’t enough, she also co-wrote ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ with Grammy-winning guitarist Norman Brown for his album ‘24/7’.
‘Summer Rain’ opens up in fine style with the shuffling beat of ‘Just Keep Holding On’ and although it could be argued that smooth jazz is an art form currently struggling to re-find its identity, one just has to listen to this splendid song to know, with Harris, the genre is in good hands. The tune happens to be the first to be serviced to radio yet truth to tell much of the collection has ‘radio ready’ written all over it.
Take for example the hugely current sound of ‘12:57’ or the mellifluous title cut that is one of eleven tracks written or co-written by Harris and which here is presented in both instrumental and vocal form. This latter version is blessed by the soulful tones of Joel Bowers and he also does a tremendous job when combining with Harris for the extremely tender ‘Thankful’.
‘Passing Time’ and the equally accessible ‘Ja’licious’ are both easy grooving cuts that captivate in a way only great contemporary jazz can while elsewhere Harris chooses the Luther Vandross smash ‘Here & Now’ as the album’s one and only cover. It’s a worthy inclusion and much the same can be said of ‘Take Me There’ where a smoky opening serves as a prelude to a glimpse of Harris in mellow mood. The tempo remains relaxed for the deliciously seductive ‘Chillin’ but quickly heats up for ‘Muy Caliente’ that is underpinned by a spicy Latin vibe.
The metronomic groove of ‘The Ride’ betrays a decidedly straight-ahead disposition and is enhanced by cool guitar from Darrell Crooks. In fact Crooks along with multi instrumentalist Marcus Anderson and keyboard players Chuck Cymone, George Freeman and Andrew Dorsette, all provide excellent support throughout and none more so than with ‘Oh So Good’ that evolves into another super-tight rhythm fest.
‘Summer Rain’ will be released on April 2 and is quite simply a superb example of sax driven smooth jazz at its very best. Highly recommended.