‘Promised Land’ by guitarist and ace producer Paul Brown is his ninth solo project and the first (not counting his 2021 collaboration with Larry Carlton) since 2020 and ‘Ones Upon A Time’. It is a tight ten-track collection of original compositions embellished as usual with contributions from his inner circle of backing musicians plus input from some of the biggest names in smooth jazz.
That inner circle to which I refer is front back and center of the opening track (and the first to be serviced to radio) ‘Secret Sauce’ that finds, Jeff Caruthers on keys, drums and percussion, Roberto Vally on bass and a standout horn section of Ron King on trumpet and Greg Vail on sax. It is the sort of dynamic number that has helped Brown to make his considerable name and this is also the case with the brass enriched ‘Da Spot’, which is of one of six tunes written or co-written by multi instrumentalist Shane Theriot.
Another is the title cut that gives Brown the opportunity to showcase his often-overlooked singing voice. He does it again to equally good effect with the effervescent Latin vibe of ‘Yo Tango’ where Theriot again plays a significant part.
Talking of Latin grooves the splendid ‘Wolfpack’ has them in abundance although truth to tell Brown is never too far from a bluesy groove. This is certainly the case with ‘Hey Dude’ and again with the superb ‘Round And Round’ where Brown shares the credits (and the honors) with Shane Theriot
In terms of personal favorites ‘Don’t Stop’ featuring Marion Meadows on sax and Lew Laing on keys is right up there with the best that ‘Promised Land’ has to offer. Much the same can be said of the easy grooving ‘7 and 7’ for which Euge Groove on sax is top notch yet all things considered the Smooth Jazz Therapy top track is the warmly inviting ‘Elegance’ where the contribution of Jeff Caruthers on bass, keys, drums, percussion and wah wah is as far reaching as it is sublime.
‘Promised Land’ is an absolute joy and comes highly recommended.