First of all, let me say that in my opinion Virginia native Jim Adkins is one of the few unsung smooth jazz guitarists who has exceptional tonal quality. Rarely is there an opportunity to experience an artist with the chops to carry a CD from start to finish without losing their listeners in the process. Some guitarists start strong and finish early, while others may catch you somewhere in the middle of a recording, but leave you wondering what is the point thereafter. In the case of Adkins' latest release entitled 'License to Play', all eleven tracks are exceptional and have considerable merit.
This is the fourth solo release for Jim and he provides 11 original compositions with a lot of embedded pizazz throughout. Admittedly, the first time I listened to 'License to Play' I took it to be just another guitar-oriented presentation amongst a host of many; however, at second glance the sheer nature of Jim's impeccable talent began to hit me with the fury of a thousand jungle beasts. This recording is dynamic, captivating and mesmerizing in one complete package. For me to say there is one track that I like above all others is not possible, because the entire CD showcases an exceptional array of entertaining music. If there is a standout tract, it would have to be the first cut entitled "Ocean Breeze." This particular melody is exactly what it is meant to be, while setting the tone for the next 10 tracks on the album in the process. It reminds me of the first time I drove down the Pacific Coast highway in California in an open top convertible with a lofty breeze blowing in my face and some soul searching jazz in the background. Everything after that song begins a cycle of pure pleasure all the way through.
Overall, Jim Adkins' "License to Play" is a groove-induced melodic experience. None of the eleven tracks presented are redundant or harsh to the listening palate; in fact, the entire CD is worth listening to over and over again. Jim's music is definitely strong enough to have his signature style shine through in a manner that is not boring. His supporting cast of musicians rise to the fray as well without compromising quality or style. They provide a complimentary flavor to Adkins' effervescent play on notes. To say that his music sounds like a guitarist of another persuasion would be grossly unfair because Jim has a style of his own, without imitation or influence from another. In any case, anyone within earshot of this latest release from Jim Adkins will find this to be a great addition to any jazz collection.