Back in March 2020, when the pandemic brought everything to a halt, trumpet and flugelhorn player Gordon James found himself with no work and lots of free time. It was the spur that led him to create his latest album, the perfectly titled ‘Smooth Sunshine’, a cool combination of instrumentals and vocals that are variously relaxing, upbeat and uplifting.
Take for example the warmly inviting title cut that James uses to open the collection or the similarly inclined ‘Warm Bodies’ where vocals from Gordon’s wife Carol Selick makes this very much a family affair.
Carol also writes the lyrics and provides the vocals for the decidedly romantic ‘Love For All Seasons’ and when vocal duties pass to James he conjures up not only the mid tempo ‘Everyone Likes To Complain’ but also ‘On A Summer Day’ that is right up there with the best that ‘Smooth Sunshine’ has to offer.
Equally good and staying with time related themes are ‘Rainy Afternoon’ and ‘Day And Night’. Collectively both prove to be a wonderful showcase for James’ undoubted artistry and much the same can be said of the mellifluous ‘Free Flow’ that is relaxed smooth jazz at its very best.
Elsewhere the title of the lilting ‘Brazilian Vibes’ gives a clear indication of what the listener can expect. It doesn’t disappoint and neither does another Latin tinged number, ‘Samba Majestuosa’ where the description beauty personified would not be out of place.
‘Café Soul’ is another tune that finds James at the very top of his game yet all things considered the Smooth Jazz Therapy top track is ‘Empress Rule’. Rhythmic and sublime this one really gets the job done.
‘Smooth Sunshine’ is James’ first long player since ‘Come On Down’ in 2019 and, with input on keyboards from Mark Minchello and bass from Leo Huppert, is well overdue.