Here we are at the end of another contemporary jazz year and despite it being a bumper twelve months for new music the phenomenon that is the smooth jazz cover continues unabated. No doubt it has a unique place within the genre and although being regarded as both a blessing and a curse, it has now pushed beyond the familiar territory of vintage soul to take in a wider spectrum of popular music. There is no doubt that the cover version is here to stay so, looking back on what this year has delivered, here is my very personal top ten Smooth Jazz Therapy covers of 2014.
‘Love Is The Answer’, by vocalist Geoff McBride, from his CD ‘Journey To The Soul’. McBride came to prominence through the US production of the hit television show ‘The Voice’ and with this rendition of England Dan & John Ford Coley’s 1979 cover of the Todd Rundgren composition it is easy to see why.
‘Footsteps In The Dark’ by Sam Rucker from the album ‘Tell You Something’. Rucker stormed to prominence in 2014 with this, his breakthrough recording and although it included a blistering performance of Frankie Beverly’s ’Before I Let Go’, in terms of personal favorites this smoky interpretation of the Isley Brothers classic gets the nod.
‘Remind Me’ by Ragan Whiteside from her latest project, ‘Quantum Drive’. This exciting take on Patrice Rushen’s silky smooth classic finds Whiteside combining flute and vocals like only she can and is further lifted by none other than Rushen herself guesting on keyboards.
‘If I Only Had A Brain’ by Kiki Ebsen from the album ‘Scarecrow Sessions’. This sensationally melodic masterpiece owes everything to the collective talents of Ebsen and stellar input of pianist Henry Hay, that immaculate guitarist Chuck Loeb, bass-player John Patitucci and of course the incomparable David Mann.
Read on for the remainder of this year’s top ten covers. If you have your own list of favorite covers from 2014 why not e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy New Year!!