Patrick Bradley is an American smooth jazz keyboardist and ‘Can You Hear Me’ is his third solo album and to help him deliver he’s assembled an A Team of fellow smooth jazzers – amongst them Jeff Lorber (who also produced the set), Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Eric Marienthal and Jimmy Haslip. With a crew like that on board you’d expect nothing but the classiest of smooth jazz and that’s exactly what you get across the ten Bradley-penned tunes.
The set’s opener, ‘All In’, sets you up for what’s to follow. It rides a great soul style groove over which Bradley’s pristine piano playing skates elegantly. Nothing’s demanded by the tune – but that’s the nature of the genre, isn’t it? There’s more of the same on ‘Daylight’, ‘Shoreline’ and ‘For Her’ while ‘Can You Hear Me’ is big balladic moment. This boasts the sweetest of melodies and features a soprano sax solo from Dave Koz – maybe a bit too bland for some ears.
The biggest tunes are the ones that feature a brass section. ‘Blue Skies’ is the strongest in this department – as breezy and optimistic as the implication in the title. ‘North Of Evermore’ is possibly the album’s most complex tune. With Bradley taking to the synthesiser, there’s a whiff of pomp and mysticism about it and in places it reminded me of prime time Rippingtons.
Patrick Bradley describes himself as a “spiritually-inspired” artist; explaining, no doubt, the ethereal quality of that track. Indeed the album’s title, ‘Can You Hear Me ‘, stems from the keyboardist’s questioning as to whether any divine presence can hear what he’s offering; yes, all very complex, deep, even…. though I’m pleased to report that Patrick’s music is a whole lot less mind-bending… classic piano-led smooth jazz.