RICHARD ELLIOT; Authentic Life (Shanachie)

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Soul and smooth jazz fans will know all about sax man Richard Elliot. A Tower of Power alumnus, he’s carved out a successful solo career crafting a series of albums (just over 20) that have won praise in both the soul and smooth jazz communities with fans noting his uncanny skill to meld jazz sensitivities with soul-based grooves. Maybe his sound and style come from his post TOP background CV; he’s worked long term with people like Smokey Robinson, Bonnie Raitt, The Temptations, Dave Koz and Gerald Albright to name just a few.  

 His last long player was 2016’s ‘Summer Madness’ and now he follows that one up with the concise ten tracker that is ‘Authentic Life’- an album stuffed with Elliot’s signature sounds – evidenced from the start with the opening ‘Snapshot’. This is a rocking, soul-based groove and though it might well be filed under “smooth jazz” there’s nothing bland here. More of the same on ‘Move Ahead’ and the self-explanatory ‘Boogie’. In between there are gentler more reflective moments like ‘Mongazer’ and ‘Secrets’. The album’s only cover tune is another gentle moment – a lush treatment of Gino Vannelli’s ‘Living Inside Myself.’ The album’s title track, by the way, is a reflection of Elliot’s optimism. He says recording this collection had “given us positive and uplifting feel which is what we all need right now”.

The “us” he refers to is the impressive guest list helping him shape his ideas. Joing Elliot on this album are Rick Braun, keyboardists Jeff Lorber, Chris “Big Dog” Davis and Philippe Saisse, saxophonists Dave Koz and David Mann, and percussionist Lenny Castro – testament to Richard Elliot’s standing in the genre and how the jazz community will always pull together in times of crisis. Between them they believe in living an “authentic life” – doing what feels right and accepting life in all of its facets.”

(BB) 3/5