Rapidly emerging saxophonist Carl Stanley has become hot property on the British smooth jazz scene, partly because of his recurring gig as an integral member of Peter White’s UK touring band but also due to his growing discography that has just been added to by the release of the excellent ‘EP’’ ‘Dreamers’. This tight, rhythmic, eight track collection is a mixture of Stanley originals combined with three carefully chosen covers and is a worthy successor to Carl’s 2012 debut project ‘A Beautiful Thing’ that at the time I described as being “right up there with the best releases of the year”.
Stanley gets ‘Dreamers’ up and running with the lavish one-minute title intro that leaves the listener wanting more while elsewhere his handling of the Michael McDonald classic ‘Sweet Freedom’ is top notch. Much the same can be said of Carl’s version of the 1985 Kool & The Gang hit ‘Cherish’ which shimmers with production touches that are all his own and when he is joined by the superb Brian Simpson on piano the result is the delightfully turned down ‘Funky Mellow’.
Another of Carl’s own compositions is ‘Indigo Sky’ that benefits from an understated moody swagger and although ‘Precious Memories’ is a tune that has ‘smooth jazz ballad’ written all over it a real personal favorite is ‘Romance’ that at 60 seconds in duration provides a tantalizing flirtation with the art of seduction.
Yet all things considered the number that steals the show and then some is Carl’s breathtaking interpretation of the George Duke classic ‘No Rhyme No Reason’. With guitar from Dwight Sills (who contributes throughout) and keys from Brian Simpson, it was originally made available on download in 2014 to mark Duke’s untimely death and here serves as a wonderful tribute to the great man.
‘Dreamers’ comes highly recommended.