Texan-born sax player Theresa Grayson is a rising star in the US smooth jazz firmament. Church-reared (musically, that is), Ms. G has worked with Peter White, Mindi Abair, Will Downing, Marion Meadows, Ronnie Laws and dear old Michael Bolton. She debuted as a soloist in 2010 with a well-received ‘It’s All About You’… an album of inspirational instrumentals. Now, for her sophomore set, Theresa moves up a gear with a very pleasing secular 12 tracker that mixes her own compositions with a varied and interesting selection of covers.
Of the original music ‘More Pressure’ and ‘Afterthoughts’ are two tight soul-based grooves while ‘Just A Little Time’ is a languid quiet storm moment that will, I’m sure, interest programmers on those kinds of radio stations. Sadly, ‘Spend My Life’ strays too far to the middle of the road to provoke real interest, though Kenny G fans might want to investigate.
It’s the album’s covers though that create the intrigue … and what a mixed bag Theresa’s come up with. There’s the obvious smooth jazz contenders – Hall and Oates’ ‘Sara Smile’ and Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’ are meant for this kind of album and here they’re treated with total respect, staying close to the originals. On ‘Smooth Operator’ Ms Grayson even offers a vocal… and what a great job she makes of it all.
More adventurous, perhaps, are versions of John Legend’s ‘Tonight’, Bruno Mars’ ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’ and Maroon Five’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’ . Let’s file them under “interesting”. There are also takes on the Goffin/King chestnut ‘Natural Woman’ and Toni, Tony, Tone’s ‘It Never Rains In Southern California’ and given the vocal prowess Theresa shows on ‘Smooth Operator’, I’d have liked her to have added more vocals to these two.
Theresa Grayson, I’m told, is currently pursuing a doctorate in musical education. I’m sure when she adds this album to her portfolio she’ll enjoy some kind of incremental boost to her grades. Find out more @ www.TheresaGrayson.com