Richard Elliot | Rock Steady

Listen to song samples from “Rock Steady” on our Jazz page by clicking here!!

While its been a short second since Sax man Richard Elliot graced the contemporary/modern jazz channels, his style & charisma for R&B instrumentals still stand strong. His ability to play effortlessly through the sax to just about any classic cover or original material often leaves a niche in his name. High qualities of passionate Funk grooves, soulful energetic melodies & silky smooth, elegant romantic slow cuts dominates the majority of his projects from over the years. His recent deal, “Metro Blue” expressed those trademarks in high fashion, along with one of my favorites from 1999, “Chill Factor”. As well as “Crush” in 2001. These CD’s stayed consistent to an ever growing popularity of deep layered, heavy grooved compositions that dominated the smooth jazz format in the last 10-15 years or so.

Then comes “Rock Steady”, a 11 track selection of old school covers & the same relevant musical style as compared to the list of his previous I just shared. Richards’ imprint is absolutely spit shined on the project, along with help from veteran players, Dwight Sills (Guitar), Luis Conte (Percussions), Ricky Lawson (Drums), Nate Phillips (Bass). Gerald Albright (Bass Guitar, Tenor & Alto Sax), Jeff Lorber (Keyboards), Tim Gant (Keyboards, Synth Bass & Programming), Nick Lane (Trombone), Ron Reinhardt (Keyboards), & Rick Braun (Keyboards & Trumpet)

Track Listing:
~ Move On Up
~ Straight Up
~ Yaquala
~ Restless
~ Retro Boy
~ License To Chill
~ Candice Dance
~ Rock Steady
~ The Preacher
~ Spindrift
~ Keep On Truckin’

For openers, The Curtis Mayfield classic “Move On Up” gets touched on the jazz instrumental scale & yet I favor the original from Curtis by all means. Mr. Elliot did a pretty good job handling his interpretation of it. However, The major difference may come with the total track time listed at 4:37, while the original kept us up all night long….Right?? Other than the fact, when its Mr. Mayfields’ music, its hard to make anything better than his original masterpieces.

“Straight Up” changes gears & brings it back up to a much more progressive, upbeat influence. Next, as generally spoken in the paragraphs above, Richard takes us to that ‘chill factor’ in “Yaquala” – a seductive, R&B injected, quiet storm feelin’ cut, perfect for the evening afterglow & nighttime chill out. If you know what I mean…

“Restless” steps it up just a tid bit, easily intending for the groove to stay consistent in rhythm & in sequence to a flow. “Retro Boy” takes the groove based album to the perspective Rock Steady meant for the listeners to receive & “License To Chill” stretches out the production prowess of jazz great Jeff Lorber.

Speaking of the title track, “Rock Steady”, check out the ever graceful vocals of Ms. Lynne Fiddmont, as she decorates this composition to perfection! A great track originally written by The Queen of Soul – Aretha Franklin.

Another jazz cat who made his presence felt was Phillipe Saisse. The power of soul music was tapped for “The Preacher” & this one ladies & gentleman clearly was sharp, infused with great musical interaction among the band & overall, left a nice impression on how well the album was produced & arranged.

The old school feel concludes with “Keep On Truckin’“. Check it.

This album gave the best of both worlds, soul music & instrumental jazz, with a touch or flair of improvisation. It also ‘takes you back’ without compromising the sounds of today. My only hangup would be to see just a little bit more time on a couple of tracks – mainly the classic soul covers from Curtis Mayfield & Aretha Franklin. Not too many slow cuts were found on the project, but it was still OK though. Where Richard decidedly pointed his direction into a complete deep soul grooving vibe for this offering, that aspect may make up for it. I wouldn’t say this was his best project, but I would recommend this to those still searching for something a little different in the smooth jazz realm. Whenever Richard does touch something, musically, whether it be covers, originals or live concert settings, his gift for the sax always reigns supreme.

Terrill Hanna
The Urban Music Scene

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