JIM SAMUEL: Now (Smooth Dance Records)


Smooth jazz keyboardist, Jim Samuel has enjoyed a varied career trajectory. In the 60s and 70s he was a key part of Bob Brady and the Conchords. Northern soul collectors, of course, know and revere their Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ sound-alike, ‘Everybody’s Going To A Love In’. When the band folded Samuel went on to work with a show band called Pen Lucy. During those golden days Jim played with people like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and the Dells as well as top pop draws like the Beach Boys and the Who. When Pen Lucy disintegrated Samuel forged a successful career in business and, we’re told, for almost 25 years he rarely played the piano – save for writing a rock n’roll Christmas show.

A couple of years back in some business down time, Jim got himself a digital piano and, after exploring all the new music technologies, he fell in love with the business again. He recorded and released a well received long player – ‘Smooth Covers And Smooth Dance’. As the title suggests, the album was Jim’s take on tried and tested tunes but for his follow up – ‘Now’, he’s decided to rely more on original material. Of those original tunes, the immediate grabber is the urgent ‘Off The Tracks’. It’s a classic slab of smooth jazz. It rides a great soul groove and guest saxophonist Gerald Albright brings some real beef to proceedings. Amongst the album’s other guests is trumpet player Tony Neenan who adds some delightful muted horn to the gentle ‘Come What May’ and the soporific ‘Now That You’ve Gone’. ‘Binney Street’ is another appealing original… reminds me of those well-loved Mike Post TV themes.

The set does feature a couple of covers and one, Grover Washington’s ‘Mr Magic’ opens proceedings. It features that man Albright again and he does a thoroughly professional job with the Washington lines. The other cover is the tune that “made” Norah Jones, ‘Don’t Know Why’. This is treated respectfully with some lovely acoustic guitar from Rob Tardik and a touch of wistful harmonica … nice to hear it again.

Find out more about the album and Jim Samuel @ www.jimsamuelproductions.com

(BB) 3/5