Chicago born MEKIEL REUBEN is a smooth jazz sax player with something like eight  albums to his credit and his latest might just hit the spot with the soul crowd as well as the smooth jazzers. You see, the long player ‘Just Like The Radio’ has been inspired by Mekiel’s youth in Chicago when the radio – playing classic soul and R&B – was his constant companion! Thus he’s written and recorded 12 tunes with his co-producer David Vasquez on which he pays musical homage to people Sly & The Family Stone, The Jazz Crusaders, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Grover Washington Jr., Archie Bell, and War.

Some of the reference points are fairly obvious. So, the album opens up with a funky ‘Sly Jungle’ and no prizes for guessing who inspired the smooth and soulful ‘FB Maze’! Other homages are not so obvious. But the album title track has a loose feel and guitar intro that was inspired by Archie Bell’s ‘Tighten Up’.  

Two the tracks  ‘Time Piece’ and ‘Cool Livin’’ are re-recordings of tunes from Mekiel’s debut album while ‘Groovin in V.I. Twin City’ recalls the time  that the saxophonist spent living in the Virgin islands. Ditto ‘Girl Dancer’ which our man says was inspired after observing a young Caribbean girl dancing in a totally carefree fashion. Elsewhere ‘Mellow Tuesday” is a sultry and exotic Latin samba while ‘D Vaz’ is a tight groove that’s a tribute to co-producer David Vasquez. Vasquez, by the way plays keyboards, synth bass and percussion throughout while the drummer is Phil Martin and the guitar’s down to Mauricio Guerrero Jr. Between them they craft a soulful sound that indeed does echo the soul grooves of the main man’s youth – misspent or otherwise!

‘Just Like The Radio’ is released July 21 on MekMuse Records.