REGGIE HINES: DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE (Label: www.reggiehines,com)

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Though Bronx-born Reggie Hines is pictured on the cover of this album wielding a saxophone, he is in fact a multi-instrumentalist whose talent has led him to gigs in the road bands of – amongst others – Stevie Wonder, Angie Stone, John Legend, Jill Scott, the O’Jays and the late Luther Vandross. As you’d expect then, on this 15 tracker Reggie handles almost all of the music parts himself, though the lead instrument throughout is his mellifluous sax which he plays in a style that might recall the flavours of Kirk Whalum. Like Whalum, Hines knows what’s expected from a smooth/lite jazz collection so he naturally offers tunes to suit most tastes. There’s the obligatory soul grooves, of which ‘One On 1’ is a particularly strong. The tight beats on that one would suit the modern soul room – though only if the modern soul crew could ditch their distaste for instrumentals, no matter how classy. Naturally there are some Latin moments too – with ‘Cha Cha Cha’ being the most obvious and there are some sweet quiet storm cuts like ‘Interlude To The Heart’. Along with those there are a couple of vocal cuts featuring a pleasant-voiced Ebony Duke. However ‘Do You Believe’ and ‘If U Say’ aren’t full-blown vocals, rather they’re those peculiar smooth jazz affairs where the chorus is cooed gently over the lead instrument. It’s generally all very predictable, though with ‘Harlem Nights’ Reg offers a looser and freer jazz approach that shows there may be more adventure yet to come from him. Weakest cut on the set is ‘Rock-A-Bye’. No, not a lullaby – the ‘rock’ in the title refers to “rock” guitar, peddled here by Calvin Loatman, which offers a discordant note to a set that’s generally straight-down-the-middle smooth jazz.
(BB) 2/5