I was initially signposted to Joel Del Rosario’s ‘Past Present Future’ by the single ‘Delicious Vinyl’, the title of which tells you all you need to know about the old school sensibilities of this groove drenched charmer. It includes some great work on flute from Ragan Whiteside and, after having checked out the entire CD, I can report it is totally representative of the cool vibe that Del Rosario seems able to generate at will. Of course he is no stranger to these pages having caught the eye back in 2013 with ‘Side By Side’, his collaboration with Surewill that garnered the chilled out ‘Mon Frere’ and here, with ‘Past Present Future’, he is confirming his status as a rising smooth jazz star with talent to burn.
Take for example the opening ‘Summer Song’ that is embellished by the trumpet of the Atlanta based Melvin Miller or the easy paced title cut that gets on a velvety roll and stays there. Both are exactly the sort of tracks that contemporary jazz circa 2016 should be all about and although ‘This Is How We Roll’ proves to be an understated but entirely addictive gem it is the wonderfully mid tempo ‘Sunrise On The Sunset’ that shimmers with a delicious brass veneer.
By and large Joel keeps it smooth throughout but cuts loose a little with ‘The City’ that shows off a different side to his musical persona. However, he is quickly back on smooth jazz message with ‘Gettin It’ which is another thoughtful yet compelling number.
‘Kate’s Lullaby’ (named after his daughter) is not only as dreamy as you would expect it to be but also (with ‘Delicious Vinyl’) a contender for the album’s best tune. In fact Joel closes out the collection with a sensational ‘outro’ version of ‘Delicious Vinyl’ yet in terms of personal favorites the superb ‘Coastside’ is extremely hard to beat. With a mood that just keeps on building, a smattering of synthesized strings and Del Rosario’s tight playing this is one seriously good track.