From the opening notes of The Next Level, bassist D-Lucca frames this as a San Francisco treat, as you can hear the trademark nuances that so often mark music from that region. This starts off with the promise that it will be a very pleasant aural journey. It delivers on that promise throughout.
D-Lucca has played with quite the impressive and diverse list of who’s who in the business, including the late, great vibraphonist/percussionist Lionel Hampton, drummer Peter Erkskine, vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the late saxman Michael Brecker, as well as Rosemary Clooney, Debbie Boone, and Tony Tennille. The influence of that experience comes across immediately here. D-Lucca is also currently touring with keyboardist Terry Disley of Acoustic Alchemy fame.
The material on this album is at once refreshingly original, smooth, cool, and well-written. His and his band’s masterful technique and playing don’t hurt, either! There’s substance, feel, and a genuine sense that all’s right with the world in listening to this abundantly charming project. Tunes like the opening and title track, as well as "Keepin’ the Fire Lit" and "Blues Driver," clearly show that D-Lucca tried very hard not to leave many stones unturned in cranking out the creativity. Of course, I singled out those tunes only because they are among my favorites. They are not the sole tunes of note, mind you. This album is worthy of a complete listen, lest you miss something truly inspiring. Everything fits here---from the jazzy chords of guitarist Lorn Leber to the driving drums of several different contributors in this area. D-Lucca’s various basses add, as usual, several different dimensions to it all. Truly impressive work, and congrats are definitely in order.