Darryl Alexander is an artist who makes smooth jazz that is satiny smooooooooth. On his new CD This Way, he has written a collection of twelve dreamy, lush and delectable songs that carry you away to a heavenly place. To assist him on his etheral mellow mission he has two very talented saxophonists: Kenny Blake (Heads Up International recording artist) and Mark Earley from the group Roomful of Blues. Also along on the journey are Ken Harsh on guitar, Wilber Krebbs on bass guitar and Alton Merrell and Pete Tokar on various keyboards.
"This Way"’s opening cut is the beautiful "Burning Bush," a prime candidate for smooth jazz radio play. A mid-tempo song as cool as a spring evening, the melody flows along beautifully aided by tinkling piano (Alton Merrell) and a sax (Mark Earley) that sounds like spring birds in the meadows. A perfect choice to begin the CD. The title track "This Way" is piano driven (Pete Tokar) with percussive claps and a moody sax all assisting in a nice melody that is hard to resist. "Tonight (Song for April)" benefits from Kenny Blake’s sublime alto sax that oozes sensuality. "Silent Crys" showcases Darryl’s drums in tandem with some stellar urban-jazz saxwork.
"Café Rio" has a seductive latin flavor as the title implies. A sexy saxophone is grouped with latin-styled smooth guitar, courtesy of Ken Harsh, and tender keys (Pete Tokar) to create a breezy Brazilian atmosphere that is quite pleasing. "Music in my Soul" is a slower tempo number enhanced by piano and sax interplay and a tasteful melody that I’ve quickly come to love. "Freedom" is enchantingly luscious and while fresh, is still familiar sounding upon first listen. A highly pleasing melody blending sax and guitar gets taken to a higher place when the organ joins the mix. "Thank You Lord" is slower paced and reflective. The alto saxophone of Kenny Blake on this one is heavenly devine.
The mellow soprano sax supplied by Mark Earley on "Shake It Up" is soulful and emotive and takes the spotlight. The shaking being done on this song is softly supplied, like a baby’s cradle being lovingly rocked. It fits the overall mood of the CD perfectly, like a tongue and groove joint. "Candle in the Dark," with some fine ensemble playing by all involved, is yet another standout track. Darryl’s drums and percussion are expertly handled, as they are throughout the CD. The song moves into a bluesier mood, but remains smooth. "Party’s Over" closes the CD with a bit of an urban feel, with wah-wah guitar accentuating the insistent drum beat. The sax, as throughout the entire CD, shines brightly.
I’ve always been a fan of releases done by drummers, especially those such as Darryl who never attempt to hog the glory. In fact, upon first listen one would suspect that this is a release by a saxophonist. Alexander has assembled a fine group of like-minded musicians for this session making it a most memorable release. He is a masterful tunesmith and his production values are top-notch throughout. This Way holds up well upon repeated listenings and I highly recommend it.