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Shmoove by Vocé

While not being this reviewer's immediate preference, this group offers a different and mostly interesting musical direction. There’s no question that Vocé is comprised of some truly talented musicians (Ryan Montana’s sax and flute work is definitely noteworthy). If you like your CDs sprinkled with varied subgenres throughout (it has ingredients of jazz, blues, Latin, reggae, and even a hint of soft rock/pop), this may be the one for you. Maybe. Let me elaborate, and you be the judge.

Track 1, "Island Paradise," is a light, rhythmic Caribbean-influenced piece, with steel pans providing a nice complement to some good sax work. Track 2, "Vocé Blues," is an up-tempo bluesy, yet airy, piece featuring some competent flute and piano work. There’s also Seth Blumberg's soaring guitar riff--complete with distortion--thrown in at the end for good measure.

I must admit that Track 3, "Los Quatro Gatos" left me a bit bewildered. The instrument voicings and stylings along with the somewhat elusive melody simply lost me. "Sunset Cliffs" (track 4) has a very mellow, finger-snapping rhythm and tasteful sax/acoustic guitar contributions. The title track (my favorite) follows in much the same style as track 4, though the sax work is earthy and more soulful.

Track 6, "Moontrance," a slightly reggae-influenced tune does remind you of a stroll along a moonlit beach with its lazy, harmonious horns and sax solo. The flute also adds a nice touch. Still, having said that, the somewhat terrestrial tune is not very exciting, just catchy. "Harbor Nights" (track 7) has more delightful yet subtle steel pan work but doesn't capture that Caribbean feel in the same way as the opening track. Track 8, "Holy Guacamole," is a Latin jazz-influenced selection that shows off some nice and "chatty" sax stylings, somewhat resembling a Spryo Gyra tune or two. On track 9, "Sweet Magnolia," I found myself waiting for Bob Seger or some other moderate-to-soft rocker to chime in. While certainly not a smooth jazz piece, it’s a nice tune. The CD finishes up with a very nice sax-caressed take on "Waterfalls," originally done by R&B artists, TLC.

Shmoove is an interesting compilation of subgenres under the huge umbrella of jazz and may or may not be where you’d come for a purely smooth jazz offering in the "traditional" sense, but it’s certainly a musical adventure for those of you who have varied tastes and want them all satisfied in one album.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Vocé
  • CD Title: Shmoove
  • Genre: Smooth Jazz
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Sota Music
  • Tracks: Island Paradise, Vocé Blues, Los Quatro Gatos, Sunset Cliffs, Shmoove, Moontrance, Harbor Nights, Holy Guacamole!, Sweet Magnolia, Waterfalls
  • Musicians: Ryan Montana (soprano sax and flute), Seth Blumberg (electric and acoustic guitars, and beat programming on tracks 2 & 7), Kevin Cooper (bass, steel pans, and keyboards on track 8), Leo Dombecki (keyboards, synthesizers, tenor sax, and beat programming on track 5), Bill Ray (drums on track 1), Jesse Charnow (drums on tracks 2, 7, 9, & 10), Tommy Aros (percussion), Norah Blumberg (vocals on track 10)
  • Rating: Two Stars
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