Under the random umbrella of smooth jazz semantics, numerous artists arise and fall on a generic and sometimes chaotic approach to contemporary jazz. Although the genre is a radio friendly approach to a style of music that is not always clear and garners a loyal following, many of the artists are down-right boring. Some never arise above the level of mediocrity, while others have had a definite impact right away. But somewhere in the middle, there are a number of new stars that fly low under the radar and can be quite entertaining, as they emerge to become promising influential musicians. Such is the case of Jay Soto, a guitarist with a brand new release entitled "Long Time Coming." With assistance from saxophonist Michael Lington, Jay has put together 10 tracks of smooth jazz antics, nine of which were written by Soto. In addition, he also played a dual role as musician and producer. Either way, for an up and coming artist’s debut release, this is an extremely ambitious project.
On the surface, the first observation that was noted about Jay Soto is that he is not the typical prototype jazz musician. As a classically-trained pianist and a much heralded composer, arranger/producer, it is not an accident that Jay was able to hit the ground running with "Long Time Coming." During the course of his career, many of his songs have been heard on television in such shows as "Sex and the City" and "All About Us." On the concert scene, he has opened for Acoustic Alchemy and Vicki Carr and a host of other notable acts. Prior to becoming a solo artist, Jay was a member of the Phoenix based Latin band known as Zum Zum Zum. In every sense of the word, Jay Soto’s career has flourished due to his background educationally and professionally.Right off the top, "Long Time Coming" can be seen as a reflection of everything Jay Soto has been about during his career as a musician. The CD is filled with Latin-tinged rhythms on such tracks as "Black Orpheus," "Miss My Cabana" and "Song For Mary-Cruz," as he reflects upon his earlier days gigging with Zum Zum Zum. Other aspects of Jay’s recording are augmented by melodic grooves, dynamic riffs and a multitude of mid tempo tracks where the sheer essence of Soto’s talent is brought to bear. As an artist, he shines as the consummate guitarist with intertwining approaches that can be viewed as strategic. He even takes his artistic task another further with some superb keyboard work that is simply dazzling. Listen for "Remember the Night," a tune Jay collaborated on with Michael Lington. That cut is filled with rhythmic examples of smooth jazz influences that bode well with Jay’s and Lington’s stylistic manner. Together they convey a light-hearted upbeat demeanor that moves and grooves through a series of guitar and saxophone illuminations. In practically every arena, Jay Soto’s passionate embrace of smooth jazz fundamentals has led him down a path towards this debut effort. If this release is the end result of doing everything correct to get from A To Z, Jay’s star is sure to rise in the coming years ahead. In the mean time, little to be desired has been left with the release of "Long Time Coming."