DARREN RAHN: Talk Of The Town (Label: Nu Groove Records)

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DARREN RAHN: Talk Of The Town

Darren Rahn is a hot shot smooth jazz producer who, here, steps out of the control booth to cut another solo album – playing sax, flute, percussion, Rhodes and other keyboards. But ‘Talk Of The Town’ is no one-man show. Rahn’s status in the jazz world is such that he can bring in big names to flesh out his muscular musical ideas. So the guest list here includes players like Jeff Lorber, Bob James, Wayman Tisdale, Tim Bowman, Mel Brown and Michael White and between them all they really do create a groove-laden brew that is far from smooth or lite. The set’s immediate attention grabbers are a trio of covers – Chaka Khan’s ‘Whatcha Gonna Do For Me’, Patrice Rushen’s ‘Forget Me Nots’ and Hall and Oates’ ‘I Can’t Go For That’ and each offers something new. The vocals are kept to a minimum (mainly the catchy choruses) while the band focus on constructing the groove. The tweak on ‘Forget Me Nots’, in particular, is very strong. A tad faster than the original, it’s crisp and ultra-tight with sharp vocals from the De’Nate trio. Of the straight instrumentals there’s a profusion of goodies. The good groove of the three soul covers is maintained on ‘Tale Of Two Cities’ and ‘Duplicity’ while quite stormers will enjoy the relaxed ‘Secret Crush’ (featuring Jeff Lorber) and ‘Our Love’. ‘Tell Me What You Want’ is looser altogether while Mel Brown’s bass on the album’s title cut is a delight. Fans of the genial Bob James will need to grab a listen to ‘Easy Does It’ -easily as good as any of the veteran keyboardist’s own up-tempo but relaxed efforts, then, rounding things off, Tim Bowman’s guitar on ‘With You By MY Side’ is properly understated. Too many pundits and critics have prematurely claimed the demise of smooth jazz; with ‘Talk Of The Town’, Darren Rahn proves that it’s still alive and very well.
(BB) 4/5