The Braxton Brothers (bassist Nelson and sax man Wayne) have been crafting great smooth jazz together for longer than I’m sure they’d care to remember. A regular and consistent flow of albums has kept the siblings’ name out there and this new 12 track set won’t harm that trajectory. It’ll be sure to please their followers who have come to love the unique bass/sax dialogue they have perfected.
Hear that very special, sound on the album opener, ‘The Only Woman In The World’. This is a classic smooth jazz groove…. tight and soulful. Little wonder that the boys have chosen this as the set’s lead single. There’s more of the same on ‘You Care About Me’ while on the set’s title track they crank up the pace….nothing smooth about this ‘Higher’.
Opposing that one the album offers a trio, of pleasing quiet storm moments… of which ‘Something In My Heart’ is the easiest on the ear. ‘Beauty’ offers something quite different. This light romp is caressed in Caribbean flavours and there is a minimal vocal from Joelibeck Neisler-Lebron. He also features on the gentle ‘What Would I Do’ – another classic smooth groove. It’s hardly a full-on vocal; the album, would, I think benefit from a more focused vocal cut and that there isn’t one is odd given that the Braxtons say that when they write their tunes they start with lyrics to create the mood and image; then they jettison the words for the tune they’ve crafted to accompany them. C’mon boys, give us a proper vocal! Likewise maybe they could throw a little caution to the wind and attempt an imaginative cover. As it is ‘Higher’ is a fine, undemanding smooth jazz set, but it just doesn’t quite ignite. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to. As we opined up top, this new set will keep the faithful happy but it probably won’t make many new converts.