The 2010 CD from Chicago guitar man Bernard Alcorn was titled ‘A New Day’ and with a combination of original songs and several well-crafted covers, it showed of his ‘Benson-esque’ talents to perfect effect. Now, with a similar format that finds him mixing nine of his own compositions with three re-imagined classics, he is back with ‘Stay Tuned’.
In fact Bernard is something of a late bloomer. Hampered by a parallel career as social worker and vocational rehabilitation counselor, and despite the fact that, at the time, he had been playing professionally for over twenty years, it was 2000 before his debut recording, ‘Late Arrival’ hit the streets. ‘Stay Tuned’ opens with the ultra cool ‘Late Edition’ and in a manner that suggests Alcorn is intent on making up for lost time. It’s a slice of ‘easy on the ear’ guitar driven smooth jazz that despite its mellow disposition retains something of a street-wise edge.
Talking of ‘an edge’ that is exactly what the energetically jazzy ‘Here We Go Again’ has going for it while elsewhere the happy vibe of ‘Step Into The Light’ is enriched by the subtle use of sampled horns. Alcorn stays up-tempo for the catchy ‘Persistence’ that would be a sizzling summer accompaniment to ‘driving with the top down’ along Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive and although he keeps it wonderfully zesty with ‘Now Hear This’, his relaxed playing ensures that the Curtis Mayfield blockbuster ‘Move On Up’ gets an extremely smooth makeover.
In so doing it becomes an early contender for Smooth Jazz Therapy’s ‘Top Ten Covers Of 2014’ and in this respect it could well be in the company of a velvety rendition of the Luther Vandross hit ‘So Amazing’.
Alcorn tips a hat to Michael Jackson with ‘This Is It’ and he applies this same tender touch to both the melodic title tune and the equally beguiling ‘A Quiet Moment’, which, anchored by a solid beat and a splash of vibe-sounds, proves to be a cut above the average.
Maybe it’s the proximity to the 2014 World Cup but the rhythmic ‘Brazilian Call’ should find favor with fans of smooth jazz and football alike. It has a Latin groove that is irresistible and much the same can be said of ‘Samba Nouveau’, which serves to keep the party going, and then some.
For more go to www.bernardalcorn.com