THE L.A. CHILLHARMONIC: The L. A. Chillharmonic (Label: Artistry Music)

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THE L.A. CHILLHARMONIC: The L. A. Chillharmonic

The L. A. Chillharmonic is a studio group consisting of top Los Angeles session men. The outfit has been put together by guitarist Richard Smith and the band includes people like Brian Bromberg on bass, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, percussionist Alex Acuna, keyboardist Jeff Lorber and a brass section of Greg Adams, Gary Meek, Michael Paulo and Eric Marienthal. On odd tracks they’re joined by other names – people like Patrice Rushen and Sean Holt. Quite an ensemble – and between them the players must have played on thousands of sessions – both as sidesmen and leaders… guitarist Smith, for example has ten solo albums to his name! All this experience shows. The playing is professional and slick, but a lot of the time it feels as if the Chillharmonicers are going through the motions. It sounds like they’ve done it all before … probably because they have! Across ten cuts, the music rarely comes alive and it’s all a very polite mix of what you’d expect from a smooth jazz album. We have the Benson pastiches (the eponymous title cut springs to mind); we have breezy shufflers (‘Ultimate X’, for example); there’s some vaguely exotic stuff (‘Agriento’, for example has a whispered Italian vocal); there are quiet storm moments (a cover of Brian McKnight’s ‘What We Do Here’) and plenty of filler. Even the big cover – a take on Stevie’s ‘Boogie On Reggae Woman’ fails to take off, though the big, brassy ‘Alvinator’ almost does. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a bad album: it’s perfectly acceptable MOR smooth jazz. It’s one of those lite jazz things that the West Coast studios seem able to churn out with ease … the musical equivalent of painting by numbers.
(BB) 2/5